SAILORS ON THE INWARD SEA

Lawrence Thornton, Author . Free Press $24 (288p) ISBN 978-0-7432-6007-7

Jack Malone, who is revealed as the inspiration for Joseph Conrad's Marlow, narrates this evocative, metafictional novel about honor, the sea and authorial integrity. The story revolves around a naval encounter between a British minesweeper and a German submarine in WWI that Conrad witnessed, and the ambiguities surrounding the British captain's actions (he might have committed a crime that resulted in the deaths of some German sailors). Through Conrad's recounting of the tale to Malone, the door is opened to explorations of both Heart of Darkness and Lord Jim . In the process, Malone learns how Conrad has appropriated elements and events from his life and fictionalized them in his famous novels. Thornton (Imagining Argentina , etc.) writes most impressively when it comes to things nautical; indeed, Malone spends a fair amount of time recounting his merchantman journeys around the world, which pulse with vivid detail, as do his keen, nuanced observations about European mercantilism ("you see it everywhere, the large white colonial hand balled into a fist throwing a dark shadow across the land"). Those unfamiliar with the intricacies of Conrad's life and fiction will be at a disadvantage, but even novices will be able to appreciate Thornton's eloquent meditation on friendship and storytelling. Agent, Ned Leavitt. (Sept.)

Forecast: A blurb from Michael Cunningham will catch the eye of readers who enjoy elegant riffs on literary classics.

Reviewed on: 09/13/2004
Release date: 08/01/2004
Genre: Fiction
Paperback - 288 pages - 978-1-4165-6836-0
Open Ebook - 288 pages - 978-1-4391-0465-1
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