04 October 2010

Review: Safe from the Sea by Peter Geye

On Noah Torr's ninth birthday, his father, Olaf, became famous throughout the Great Lakes region as one of The Three by not going down with the burning ore boat Ragnar√łk on a blizzardy night. More than three decades later, Noah thinks of his father with the words selfishness, abandonment, drunkenness, and estrangement. When he reluctantly returns to Minnesota on his father's request, Noah is sure he will have nothing to say to the dying Olaf.

Safe from the Sea by Peter Geye is an exquisitely written story about a man whose life would be forever defined by a tragic March night. No matter what he accomplished, no matter how he behaved, Olaf understood that he had already ended up as a "line in a poem, as [a] face in a picture in a museum" (p. 186). Excuse or cause, his survival ultimately cost him his family and his sense of control.

It's not that Noah has no good memories of his childhood; it's more that his father's long absences on the Lakes or in the local bars have left an indelible mark. He too wears the hair shirt of the Rag, reminding him daily of what might have been.

As Olaf waits for death, he finally tells his son about each horrifying moment of the first time he knew there would be no future. Olaf's story becomes Noah's, and separately together they take hold of the tiller, hoping to find a safe route home.

Safe from the Sea is a beautiful, emotionally pitch perfect debut.

Safe from the Sea at an Indie

Published by Unbridled Books 2010
ISBN-13: 9781609530082
YTD: 86
Source: Review (see review policy)
Rating: A+
Copyright © cbl for Beth Fish Reads, all rights reserved (see review policy)


Veens 10/4/10, 7:09 AM  

Wow, I have read nothing like this before. I am intrigued.

Beth Kephart 10/4/10, 9:10 AM  

I am put into the mood of Per Peterson with this review. Thank you. Sounds wonderful.

Dawn @ sheIsTooFondOfBooks 10/4/10, 11:28 AM  

Wow is right! I love the words you've used to describe this novel, including the phrase about Olaf's actions being the "cause or excuse" for his present state.

I hadn't heard much about this book, but you have me adding it to my wishlist now!

Julie P. 10/4/10, 11:32 AM  

This truly is a very special book! I loved it!

bermudaonion 10/4/10, 11:35 AM  

I keep reading rave reviews of this book - I can't wait to read it.

Anonymous,  10/4/10, 12:57 PM  

Another sinking boat story?? Although this one sounds great, I've got this thing against sinking boats. No can do.

Sandy Nawrot 10/4/10, 2:01 PM  

Yours is the third or fourth review I've seen, but what a review! YOu were definitely ON when you wrote it. I'd love to get my hands on it.

Jen - devourer of books 10/4/10, 2:56 PM  

Peter Geye is going to be at GLIBA this weekend, maybe I can sneak this in among my Chicago author reads if I hurry up and finish the one I'm currently working on.

Joni 10/4/10, 3:31 PM  

I was incredibly moved by this novel but I have never been able to describe it as eloquently as you did in this review. This bookseller also strongly recommends this beautiful story.

caite 10/5/10, 8:56 AM  

I just bought his book based on someone's...I know not who....review. I am happy to see your very positive take on it too.

Anonymous,  10/5/10, 1:47 PM  

Must read thanks for sharing!

Dorte H 10/5/10, 2:16 PM  

This one sounds compelling!

Alice 10/5/10, 7:40 PM  

This is intriguing! Thanks for your review. I would definitely like to read this.

Sorry I haven't been visiting in the last two weeks. It's been really crazy here and my Google Reader scares me. I'm a brave girl, though, and here I am checking out your posts one by one. The good stuff must be read. :D

Unknown 10/5/10, 7:57 PM  

Wow. Well this one is going straight on the wishlist!

Vasilly 10/6/10, 10:39 AM  

This sounds amazing! Great review. This is going on my TBr list.

Athira 10/8/10, 9:14 PM  

I have this one to read, and it sounds so exquisite! I have to bump it up my TBR.

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