Calm at Sunset, Calm at Dawn: A Novel

Calm at Sunset, Calm at Dawn: A Novel

by Paul Watkins
     
 
Calm at Sunset, Calm at Dawn is a coming-of-age novel of ample beauty, insight, and intensity. Defying the wishes of his family, James Pfeiffer--twenty years old and newly expelled from college--heeds the call of the open waters off the Rhode Island coast. Joining the crew of a broken-down scallop trawler, James seeks to learn the ways of fishermen like his

Overview

Calm at Sunset, Calm at Dawn is a coming-of-age novel of ample beauty, insight, and intensity. Defying the wishes of his family, James Pfeiffer--twenty years old and newly expelled from college--heeds the call of the open waters off the Rhode Island coast. Joining the crew of a broken-down scallop trawler, James seeks to learn the ways of fishermen like his father. Through endless days of exhausting labor in the company of dangerous men, James learns shockingly brutal and unexpectedly sobering lessons. But as James discovers the secrets of his motley crewmembers, he realizes that every fisherman has his own reasons to love the sea, in all its promise and treachery.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Sharks are not the only peril faced by James Pfeiffer, age 20, as he works on a scallop trawler off the Rhode Island coast. Treacherous accidents and the risk of drug-running operations cloud the waters; the sting of losing his girlfriend adds bite to the salt air. Watkins, whose critically praised first novel, Night over Day over Night , was published when he himself was his hero's age (he is now 24), has worked on the ships he writes about, and his seafaring adventure is also a coming-of-age novel. James's mixture of love and contempt for his fisherman father Russ, coupled with Russ's fierce desire to see his son make something better of himself, drives the story. Among the crew members are an ex-Green Beret with psychotic tendencies and a hard-drinking former lumberjack. Watkins's spare, whittled-down prose does not buoy up the action, but readers will savor the realistic evocations of life at sea and the portrayal of a particular maritime subculture. (Sept.)
Library Journal - Library Journal
This novel of a young man's indoctrination into his fisherman father's way of life is engaging, believable, and unromantic. So genuine are the events and dialogue that the book's flaws--melodramatic lines muttered as the father wakes from nightmares, the hero's tritely rendered entrepreneur brother, the occasional telegraphing of events intended to surprise--stand out in stark relief. Still, there are plenty of moments--most particularly, the moving ending, plausible yet startling--that evince Watkins's skill with plot. His greatest skill, however, is his outstanding descriptive power: Some of the images, including a barnacle-encrusted corpse and a crewman gravely injured by the dredge cables, are unforgettable. Readers who know the docks of the Atlantic fisheries will instantly recognize the rugged fishermen and rusted vessels Watkins depicts. Don't look for profundity here, but expect a good read.-- Frank Pisano, Pennsylvania State Univ., University Park
Carolyn See
The raw elegance of human experience itself...Watkins is an author whose work should be read with great respect. -- Los Angeles Times
David Nicholson
Calm at Sunset, Calm at Dawn is no romantic novel of a crusty, taciturn fishermen with hearts of gold. The work is back-breaking and the sea merciless...Watkins is a good writer and the evidence is there on every page. -- The Washington Post Book World
John Casey
Intense and precise...first-rate...a book that will have a value and appeal for more than sea-story lovers. It is written out of acute feeling and experience, and the voice of an awesome storyteller. -- Chicago Tribune

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780395509593
Publisher:
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date:
09/28/1989
Pages:
304

Meet the Author

Paul Watkins is the author of six books, including Night Over Day Over Night, which was published when he was twenty-three and was nominated for the prestigious Booker Prize. Calm at Sunset, Calm at Dawn was awarded Britain's Encore prize for best second novel. Archangel, his sixth book, is published by Picador. Watkins teaches and lives with his family in Princeton, New Jersey.

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