Thursday, May 15, 2008

Time Bandit (Review)

This book’s full title is Time Bandit: Two Brothers, the Bering Sea, and One of the World’s Deadliest Jobs. If you’ve seen “The Deadliest Catch” on the Discovery Channel, you’ll appreciate this book a bit—no, a lot—more. I know I appreciated it more having just watched several hours of Discovery’s “Deadliest Catch Mother’s Day Marathon.” (I kid you not; it reminded me of 1990, when the BBC showed “The Bridge on the River Kwai” on Mothering Sunday and received a very large number of complaints.)

In other words, someone not familiar with “Deadliest Catch” will lack the background needed for much of this book. And even having that background, I found the structure of the book cumbersome. Some chapters are written from the perspective of brother Johnathan Hillstrand, from the point of view of his drifting in a disabled fishing boat. Others are written from the perspective of brother Andy Hillstrand as he awaits word of Johnathan’s fate. As one brother or the other moved away from the story of Johnathan’s being adrift to reflect on his own past or on the broader picture of the fishing life, I sometimes lost track of which brother was telling his story. More than once I had to backtrack to the beginning of a chapter to remind myself which brother was telling his story.

And Time Bandit offers much more a memoir of the brothers’ lives than an in-depth look at the fishing industry and its perils and thrills. Such works as Linda Greenlaw’s The Hungy Ocean and the Sebastian Junger’s classic, The Perfect Storm, better describe fishing as a profession rather than a recreation. I can honestly say that the parts of Time Bandit I found most entertaining were the stories of two brothers growing up and trying to out-do each other in more and more creative ways—stories only the mother of two sons could love and truly appreciate. I now know how much harder I could have had it ... or still might have it since at least one of my sons has read this book as well.

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