Come Hell on High Water

Gregory Jaynes, Author North Point Press $23 (256p) ISBN 978-0-86547-522-9
Turning 47 in summer 1995, freelance journalist Jaynes, consumed by wanderlust, left his family in New York City for a three-month freighter trip from Liverpool to the South Pacific. More a travel notebook than a memoir, his book reveals more about his travel companions than his own psyche. Jaynes has a deft touch, and his description of his ship, built by the Finns for Russia, is full of characters: oversize stewardesses, a mournful crewman, an older woman passenger with colonial airs, insufferable long-married couples. Jaynes finds it all claustrophobic, but his plaint becomes less sullen than whiny. Unfortunately, he skimps on reflection; he offers scant thoughts after his indulgence with a Samoan prostitute. There are some good anecdotes here, as when Jaynes meets an Australian woman in Fiji and has a magical day of conversation. He recalls worthy homilies above love, liberty, security and trust, but he admits that his trip was ""demoralizing idleness,"" leading to no epiphanies other than the decision to stay with his wife despite his lack of interest in marriage. If memoirists can cause pain with candor, Jaynes has chosen a gentler path, better for him than the reader. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 09/29/1997
Release date: 10/01/1997
Genre: Nonfiction
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