In the Slick of the Cricket

Russell Drumm, Author
Russell Drumm, Author Pushcart Press $25 (313p) ISBN 978-1-888889-05-5
Reviewed on: 12/01/1997
Release date: 12/01/1997
Paperback - 352 pages - 978-0-14-771267-7
Paperback - 320 pages - 978-0-14-027435-6
Paperback - 324 pages - 978-1-4392-0689-8
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The ""slick"" of the title refers to the greasy trail of fish grindings, called chum, tossed into the water to attract sportfish to boats. In this case, the sportfish is shark and the boat is the Cricket II. Drumm, a senior writer for the East Hampton Star on Long Island, recounts the career of legendary charter captain Frank Mundus, a colorful old salt in Montauk, N.Y., who almost single-handedly elevated the shark from an unwelcome toothy interloper to the sport fisherman's primal macho passion. Mundus, who has attracted media attention and sportsmen with a constant flow of self-promotional chum, regards his clients with a finely honed disdain and is said to be the model for Quint, the shark hunter in Peter Benchley's Jaws. Told in the framework of an extended charter trip on which Drumm sailed, the book interweaves Mundus's 40-year career with that of the entire sportfishing industry, as well as Drumm's own personal drama. Renderings of the ocean, both scientific and descriptive, are some of the best passages in a consistently well-written book. At its best, the writing compares favorably to Thomas McGuane's early nonfiction pieces on fishing. Mundus's own stories, however, often come across as a charter captain's carefully cultivated legends. He himself ultimately remains elusive. Drumm's enthusiastic good writing, however, more than outweighs the book's flaws, and readers in search of an adventurous read will relish hooking on to this muscular catch. Heavily illustrated. (Sept.) FYI: In the Slick of the Cricket won Pushcart's 16th annual Editor's Book Award.
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