Since it bills itself as "The New York Times Bestseller," I can only suppose that I am late to the party (again) when it comes to reading "In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex." I only began reading it the other day. The book came out in 2000 and a movie is due later this month. Oh well, "au courant" is not my middle name.
With only 25 pages under my belt, you might think I would wait until I finished it before forming an opinion, but the succulence and effect are such that I want to say "yummy" now. The book is like being invited into a fine water color ... how can such delicate, almost diaphanous, hues of time and place be so consuming in overall effect? It's lovely and quiet, and I haven't even gotten to the 'good' part yet.
Nantucket, home to a 19th century whaling industry ... a place and culture so tightly wrapped that you can feel the air being squeezed out of your lungs ... an us-and-them mentality that quietly scorns those who moved in from elsewhere ... a place of almost-savage Quaker businessmen and can-do women who not only brought up the kids, but coped (and even delighted) in the two- or three-year absences of their whaleship husbands... and yes, they had ways of addressing their own sexual needs during such absences.
I get a sense of an author who knows miles more than what he tells and yet what he tells is as juicy and full of flavor as a grape exploding between attacking molars. But delicately, delicately, delicately ... and yet, POW.