Sunday, January 13, 2013

Five Canvasses






It is a cold day in the San Diego area-maybe 55 and people here are dressed as if it is anywhere from 35 to 75. We are across the street from a park butting up against the ocean. Five women are painting the ocean and all of their canvasses are exactly alike. Perhaps their instructor does not encourage individuality-she might be more interest in color.

The park on a Saturday is filled with dog walkers, kids kicking a ball, lovers, groups of young women, young men, elderly people on walkers, birds--which people have a desire to feed despite the warning signs. Does feeding birds that live by an ocean full of fish really make people feel virtuous.

But I am still thinking about those five identical canvasses. And thinking about books that make good use of the ocean--that paint their picture vividly. JAWS comes immediately to mind. Also THE DAWN PATROL. I am also reminded of THE LIFE OF PI. Not all beach reading has to be beach reads.

What books do a good job of putting you by the sea? Any sea.

19 comments:

Prashant C. Trikannad said...

To JAWS, I'll add Peter Benchley's other two seaborne novels, THE DEEP and THE ISLAND. Defoe's ROBINSON CRUSOE and Kipling's CAPTAIN COURAGEOUS have always been two of my favourite classics. One book about the sea that I have read more than once is the self-discovery of JONATHAN LIVINGSTON SEAGULL by Richard Bach.

pattinase (abbott) said...

How well I remember reading some of these. JLS might be a forgotten book today but in its time...

Jerry House said...

Herman Melville and Joseph Conrad come immediately to mind, as do William Hope Hodgson and A. Bertam Chandler. (Chandlar, of course, was a ship's captain and transferred the sea setting into outer space to good effect in his Galactic Rim stories.)

Anonymous said...

Jaws
To Have and Have Not
The Old Man and the Sea
The Prince of Tides


Jeff M.

Charles Gramlich said...

The rime of the ancient mariner.

Richard R. said...

I agree with CAPTAINS COURAGEOUS. The first book that came to mind was Jack London's SOUTH SEA TALES, also Gregory Bedford-Jones' THE GOLDEN GOSHAWK. Then there's THE OLD MAN AND THE SEA, MOBY DICK (though I don't like the book), perhaps even THE ODESSY. Certainly KON-TIKI and just about any of the HORNBLOWER novels. Also THE PERFECT STORM.

Cap'n Bob said...

Raise the Titanic.

Deb said...

For some reason, your comment about the five identical canvases made me think of Dorothy L. Sayers's mystery, Five Red Herrings which, I believe, takes place in a seaside resort popular with artists, one of whom ends up dead. Other mysteries spring to mind that take advantage of the sea's ability to isolate and conceal--perhaps most famously Christie's And Then There Were None. P. D. James has written several mysteries that take place near coastal cliffs--those cliffs inevitably bringing about the death of at least one character.

Todd Mason said...

Early reading came to mind first...THE ISLAND OF THE BLUE DOLPHINS, CALL IT COURAGE, and, indeed "CAPTAINS COURAGEOUS" and other Kipling. A lot of fantasticated fiction, ranging from GALAPAGOS (Vonnegut) to Hilbert Schenck to Eric St. Clair, and some Jack Vance (and Nevil Shute)...and Lucy Irvine's memoir CASTAWAY; it would be hard to leave out Conrad and Melville beyond the latter-day hits. I have Joe Gores and Mike Ashley anthos awaiting me. And, well, I've been engaged by oceanography at least since such early influences as Gordon Dickson's novel THE SECRET UNDER THE SEA and THE UNDERSEA WORLD OF JACQUES COUSTEAU was an irregular ABC series...

pattinase (abbott) said...

http://www.bookmarksmagazine.com/Crackerjack/Crackerjack1to20.html

A list Bookmarks Magazine did of the best sea books. Although I confess I was thinking more about books set by the sea than on it when I wrote the post.

Todd Mason said...

Richard Bach was mostly obsessed with flying in his fantasies

Todd Mason said...

Well, mine a fairly well split between shore/island settings and travels and dwelling on and in the salt water...LUCKY COME HAWAII certainly fits, in part.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Yours didn't come up until after I typed mine. Agatha Christie set a lot of novels by the seaside if I remember correctly.
Chris Grabenstein did those NJ beach novels early on. And Wallace Stroby sets his in NJ towns.

pattinase (abbott) said...

The Sea the Sea’ by Iris Murdoch

R.T. said...

I am drawn to the shifting sands on the coast in The Moonstone. And do I recall incorrectly if I say that the coastline mattered a bit in Brat Farrar?

Coincidental anti-robot prompt: oSports (which suggests ocean sports)--but I digress.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Oh, yes. I think THE SHIFTING SANDS too.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Sorry, SINGING SANDS.

Gerard Saylor said...

Books that still fit the sea as integral to, or a character in, the story.

SEA WOLF by Jack London. London spends a lot of time preaching but there is plenty of sailing.

LOOKING FOR A SHIP by John McPhee. Nonfiction from 1990 about the merchant marine. To paraphrase "Someone somewhere is always getting it [massive and dangerous seas]."

THE CRUEL SEA by Nicholas Monsarrat. Convoy duty in the North Atlantic and from England to the Mediterranean in world war two.

MOST SECRET by Nevil Shute. Another world war two story with small boat raids on the French coast.

RETRIBUTION by Max Hastings. Another world war two book but nonfiction. The pacific campaign and the difficulties of the vast ocean spaces. I was surprised at how central the naval campaign was to defeating the Japanese. At the end of the war the Japanese had almost no ships left and only sailed at night.

R.T. said...

Since titles other than mysteries are obviously fair game, I would be remiss if I didn't mention my recently discovered favorite series: Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey-Maturin series. If you do not know these books, you are missing out on something really special.