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The Lobster Chronicles: Life on a Very Small Island

Review

The Lobster Chronicles: Life on a Very Small Island

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Excerpt




THE LOBSTER CHRONICLES is exactly the kind of book I love to read
and that is difficult to find: well-written slice-of-life
nonfiction that reveals interesting characters engaged in some
slightly oddball endeavor. Often these are mid-list books that
don't have the mass appeal of, say, a Tom Clancy novel or a
celebrity biography.

THE LOBSTER CHRONICLES is the second book by Linda Greenlaw, who
gained a bit of fame for her part in THE PERFECT STORM by Sebastian
Junger (she was the last person to talk to the Andrea Gail crew on
that fated trip). Greenlaw's first book, THE HUNGRY OCEAN, told the
intriguing story of 30 days aboard a swordfish boat, which she
skippered. THE HUNGRY OCEAN appeared on bestseller lists and was
declared "a triumph" by the New York Times Book Review. It
was an insightful and wonderfully written account, with much
satisfying technical information about deep-sea fishing on the
Grand Banks.

THE LOBSTER CHRONICLES is less of an adventure story than
Greenlaw's first book. It is a somewhat quieter story of her return
to family, home, and island life --- and about the day-to-day
business of lobstering. After 18 years of commercial fishing, and
after captaining a swordfish boat since 1986, Greenlaw decided to
return to Isle au Haut, a tiny Maine Island with 47 year-round
residents (Greenlaw is related to about half of them) to become a
lobsterman. In her second book, she chronicles about one year of
her life on the island.

She graduated from Colby College in 1983, where she majored in
English. Even though I recently heard her say in an interview that
she really doesn't like writing and only does it to help pay the
bills, she is a marvelous writer. For example, she reflects on the
time she has spent waiting for Mr. Right; after noting that her
sister called her first book "a 260-page personal ad," Greenlaw
writes:

"Coming to the Island to start a family was a goal I had set for
myself, and one of the main catalysts for my decision to give up
offshore work. I had some very nice boyfriends during my
swordfishing days, but there's just something about 'Thanks for
dinner. See you in thirty days' that is not conducive to second
dates. Since coming ashore, my status had not changed, forcing me
to consider the possibility that my fishing schedule had not been
the problem. Moving to the Island was not the best way to
facilitate the family plan. There are three single men in
residence; two of them are gay and the third is my cousin."

Greenlaw isn't shy about gently harpooning either herself
or some of the other eccentric island residents, and she clearly
has a wonderful eye for detail and characters. Greenlaw comes
across as honest, smart, opinionated, self-deprecating yet
confident, and funny.

This is a very pleasant and enjoyable book, but be warned --- after
reading THE LOBSTER CHRONICLES, you may want to chuck your job and
move to a small New England island to become a fisherman. At the
least, you'll wish you could spend some time in person with Linda
Greenlaw.

Reviewed by Michael J. Dooris (mjd1@psu.edu) on January 22, 2011

The Lobster Chronicles: Life on a Very Small Island
by Linda Greenlaw

  • Publication Date: June 11, 2003
  • Genres: Memoir, Nonfiction
  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Hyperion
  • ISBN-10: 0786885912
  • ISBN-13: 9780786885916