Linda Greenlaw,
The Lobster Chronicles: Life on a Very Small Island
(Hyperion, 2002)

Linda Greenlaw was reportedly one of New England's finest swordboat captains when she chronicled her career in The Hungry Ocean. But, after 17 years fishing in deep waters, she abandoned that career to return to her island home off the coast of Maine to make a new life trapping lobster.

Living with her parents and working with her father, Linda proves to be not nearly so good at her new career. But that doesn't stop The Lobster Chronicles from being an equally fascinating book.

The book is written in Linda's casual, earnest style and details the many facets of a lobsterman's career. She sifts through the personalities and politics of tiny Isle au Haut, where the population is dwindling despite a yearly influx of summer residents and vacationers.

This is an immensely personal book, and Linda doesn't pull punches as she gives her honest assessments of the island's characters and her own shifting moods. Mundane topics -- from preserving the island's lighthouse and safeguarding its traditional fishing grounds from mainlanders to preparing traps and maintaining her boat -- are made interesting by her blunt and straightforward prose.

The year described in this book wasn't a good one for Linda, and readers will learn about pitfalls large and small, such as empty traps and sunken motors, dog bites and heart attacks, aging, illness, town squabbles and declining fortunes. There's also a bit of lonely-hearted self-indulgence as Linda wistfully ponders her single status at age 40.

This is Linda's second book, and I've enjoyed it every bit as much as the first. There's no plot and little action, but Linda's autobiographical ramblings and poetic musings are interesting, informative and just plain entertaining.

[ visit the author's website ]

review by
Tom Knapp

7 July 2007

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