Archive for December, 2008

Passing Acquaintance

Wednesday, December 24th, 2008

This is the time of the year when people take stock of the year past. Wait: Don’t stop reading. I’m not going to subject you that kind of thing, to list various events and accomplishments that may have deep personal meaning but sound like small-minded crowing to someone else. Yes, our daughter did get off to a great start as a freshman in college, our son just passed his driving test, and Seaborn is getting good reviews, among many highlights of the past year. But I’ll stop there except to say that as the temperature plummets and the snow flies, my thoughts turn increasingly to sailing days past, future, and invented, as in the following story (which is one of the pieces I’m writing for my wife for Christmas):


Passing Acquaintance


You’re sitting in the cockpit, your arm draped over the coaming, as we sail toward Halftide Rock. You’re gazing past the moored boats toward the breakwater light and the beach and bluff beyond the channel. Our boat makes a cool sipping sound  as we slip through the water, the sail casting you in a half shadow. A tern flies by, peering down at the water, casually flapping its knife wings. Does it notice you dangling your hand in the water as you nod at the sky? The tern glances your way, feints toward the water in an acrobatic swoop, then flaps onward. We draw even with the rock and head into the open bay. I see you watching the tern on its course away from us. I ease the sheet. “Did you see it?” you say, settling lower on the warm cedar planks of the deck, the sun now full on you.  “That tern nodded at me as if it knew me.” “You think?” I say. “I know,” you say, closing your eyes and smiling.


A New Review

Friday, December 5th, 2008

A new review of Seaborn came in. It’s one of the most perceptive—and complimentary—assessments I’ve seen.

Booklist Review 

Every year, high-school-student Luke and his family go on a summer sailing trip on their small boat, Piper. This year is different, though: Luke’s beloved older sister is overseas, and their mother leaves the family the night before the sailing trip. Luke and his father decide to make the voyage anyway, but they are both angry and confused and make a series of bad decisions with disastrous results: Luke’s dad is swept overboard during a storm, leaving Luke alone on Piper in the Gulf  Stream, where he has never sailed before. The text abounds in sailing lingo, and nonsailors may get bogged down in the details. Young boating fans, though, will be happy to find a story that takes their obsession seriously. Readers interested in the arts will also connect with the story. Luke and his family are all artists, and Moodie writes beautifully about an artist’s vision. The colors and moods of the sea feel like additional characters in this unusual novel that combines a gripping survival story with a contemplative family drama. Carton, Debbie. 

Seaborn and Seatinis

Thursday, December 4th, 2008

Having a chance to expound on a subject I love is a rare gift. Last night I had just such an opportunity, thanks to the invitation I received to address a book club gathering at  Denise B.’s gracious home in Upton, Massachusetts.  She had taken great pains to make the occasion special. She set up her large downstairs room—practically the size of a rec hall—with rows of comfortable chairs facing a raised desk decorated with an arrangement of seashells and two of my novels, The Sea Singer and Seaborn.  At the other end of the room, her bar featured a beer sign with a cherry-red electronic ticker that displayed my name. To top it off, she had concocted an absinthe green elixir called a “Seatini” in honor of the oceanic (if not alcoholic) nature of my stories.

When I sat down at the raised seat behind the desk to face the assembled book club members, I felt for a moment that I should rap a gravel to pronounce court in session. Then Wendell, their friendly dog, bustled in squeaking an Aflac duck chew toy. That was my cue.  I launched into an hour-long soliloquy about the joys and pains of writing Seaborn and my other books, and the twenty-odd folks in the audience, balancing Seatinis or other drinks, were welcoming and inquisitive and engaged. I was honored to have a chance to talk about my favorite subject, especially to such a receptive audience.  And who could not relish a chance to meet Wendell the Famous House-Invading Hound?