BOOK: "Trawler," by Redmond O'Hanlon (Alfred A. Knopf, $25)
TARGET AUDIENCE: Those not susceptible to vicarious seasickness.
QUICK TAKE: When O'Hanlon was a kid, he saw a trawler tossed by overwhelming waves. "That's what fear must mean," he thought. Forty-three years later -- out of shape, untrained in seamanship -- he confronts his fears, shipping out with a deep sea trawler braving North Sea gales.
But the voyage he describes is more a wild trip inside the mind of the sleep-deprived. The principal character is a manic marine biologist named Luke who lectures O'Hanlon about the deep-dwelling fish they contemplate on the gutting table. O'Hanlon, a notable spinner of travel yarns ("Into the Heart of Borneo," "In Trouble Again"), has a sensitive ear for conversation, particularly the "dinna" and "canna"-laced brogues of his Scottish crew mates. But he can't seem to turn it off, and we get long, rambling quotes, with maddening verbal tics and parentheticals within parentheticals. It's both funny and really annoying.
RANT: They do sail through a huge storm, but we barely get to see it because O'Hanlon and Luke spend that time below-decks in a hyperventilated rant about Luke's love life.
RAVE: You could learn a lot about fish from Luke -- if you can resist the temptation to throw him overboard.
-- Jerry V. Haines