Somebody missed the boat: this gritty, classic sea story describing the quiet triumphs of Vladimov's young hero-narrator, a Soviet trawler fisherman, would make perfect summer reading. Never mind that the tale culminates in nothing more earth-shaking than a struggle against nature and human inertia to save the lives of a score of Soviet and Scottish crewmen caught in a deadly winter storm on the North Atlantic; the book is as gripping as any superpower-confrontation thrillerand inestimably better written. Though Vladimov coats his caustic portrait of the aimless drift of Soviet society in closely realized setting, characters, and sensory detail, even a censored version published in the U.S.S.R. in 1969 was controversial. Vladimov was finally exiled to the West in 1983, and here we have proof that the Soviets have let another big talent get away. Mary F. Zirin, Altadena, Cal.