Edward Lodi,
Nantucket Sleigh-Ride
(Rock Village, 2005)

I don't normally review dictionaries, but when Nantucket Sleigh-Ride hove into view, I simply couldn't resist.

Edward Lodi's slim volume is listed as "a notebook of nautical expressions," and it lives up to its name. Lodi makes no claims to 100-percent thoroughness, or even complete accuracy. Instead, he strives to keep alive (and explain to us landlubbers) a host of colorful expressions derived from a life on the sea.

Lodi's brief introduction is, in itself, entertaining, as he explains the reason and intent of this book and his reasons for limiting its scope.

The main body of the book, however, is an expansive glossary. And, for all Lodi's protests to the contrary, it appears fairly complete to the novice's eye. From words like "filibuster," "scouse," "scuttlebutt" and "chock-a-block" to phrases including "in the doldrums," "bung up and bilge free," "raise the wind" and "whistle for a breeze," Lodi makes their meanings plain. When possible, he includes references from literature to further explain the terms' usages in context.

There's not much to say here regarding style, since this is a reference work, but Lodi's definitions are certainly easy to digest. For anyone with an interest in nautical lifestyles or literature, Nantucket Sleigh-Ride is fun to keep close to hand and browse when time allows.

Oh, by the way, a Nantucket sleigh-ride is defined as "the dragging of a boat by a harpooned whale."

by Tom Knapp
19 August 2006

Buy it from Amazon.com.