Thursday 16 November 2017

Race with the devil in the Salish Sea

Today I'm presenting this book that was a true discovery for me. It has introduced me to a new world, which is something to be said, given that I live in a location by the sea... Anyway, it was interesting to learn something about boats and sailing, in an ambient that seems on the border between the world of pirates and that of ordinary people.

Title:      Nefarious: A novel
Author:  Antonio J. Hopson

The novel is set in the scenario of a non professional boat race lasting a week. Most characters are rough sailors, looking for a good time, away from everyday life, fully immersed in alcohol, sex and fun. Nonetheless, within the kaleidoscope of characters pictured by the author, there is also space for love, poetry and a reflection upon the significance of life.
I am not passionate about boats and I am not familiar with the boating environment, so it took me a little while before being able to dive into the narration, also because I have very little in common with many of the people populating the story. However, my perseverance has paid off. In fact, this book has many layers and many stories interweaving. The action is carried on by everything happening during the daily races, the rivalry between the two stronger skippers, the side stories of the various fleet members. There is also the precarious love story between the indomitable pit-girl and the romantic writer. But my attention was stolen by three characters in particular: the two tacticians, Ortun and Kevin Jonson and, of course, the devil. Kevin Jonson represents mystery, what is ancestral, immutable and powerful, regardless of all the transient and trivial everyday situations. Ortun represents poetry, music, grace. He is the depth of the ocean and the lightness of a feather. While the devil needs living beings beside him, to fill his eternal hollowness, Kevin Jonson and Ortun are whole, they are one with all the existent, therefore they stand above the circumstances in which they choose to act. The devil is a masterpiece. The author makes a truly original portrait of this figure. He features as himself, relating to the people around him in the most natural way. There is nothing threatening surrounding him; of course, some prefer to keep him at a distance, avoid his ambiguity. Nonetheless, I would say that more than cunning he displays a sort of cynical sense of humour which is rather enjoyable, especially when it is considered in the light of his inner speculations, about his own nature and the nature of his dealings with living beings. This philosophical/psychological aspect of the book is the one I prefer. I delight in stories exploring the essence of things and the inner thoughts of people, and in this novel I found some valuable pages to kindle my interest, pages that are also written in a very poetical style. One of the passages I have preferred is the conversation between the devil and a snowflake, a moving sparkle to ignite a reflection upon the intimate value of beauty and the overwhelming power of life. Another memorable passage comes at the end,  in the last conversation between the devil and Dan, the skipper of Nefarious. I leave it for you to read and enjoy.
I would like to conclude this review with a recommendation: read this book at least twice. It is a complex book, not a simple and linear one. There is so much to it, the language is rich and there are many characters to be discovered, besides a little final riddel. Too much to be fully taken in during the first read. Follow my advice and you’ll see there are some gems to be found here.

Click on this link if you want to buy the book.