Have you ever read a book in which the ocean becomes a character, not just a vast expanse of water? Ever wondered about its varied soul expressions, its power to change lives?

In this coming of age novel The Plover by Brian Doyle (2014), Declan, the protagonist, names Pacifica the Silent She; it becomes his life-long elusive tie with the feminine, given his severe emotional scarring from childhood. His twenty-foot trawler, named after a small but sturdy shorebird, also becomes a container for the ensuing life conversions of other lost souls picked up during island stops for refitting, all desperately needing Eros. Through their laugher, their stories, their tending the ever-changing needs of the Plover, their subduing a murderous sea pilot, they forge into community, each caring for each other.

This whimsical story also features conversations with the herring gull, soaring nine feet above the Plover or perched upon its cabin during this voyage to “nowhere with no hurry to get there.” A wounded warbler also takes refuge beneath the water tank and bickers with two rats in the hold.

Always, though, it is the ocean soothing, questioning, and throttling the voyagers, nights and days. Descriptions of its sea birds and fish, and the earth’s topography miles beneath the churning waters add further substance to this wet world. Of particular note is the author’s sparse punctuation and the pell-mell pace of strings of sentences and word lists that mimic the ocean’s moods.

So when overwhelmed by life storms, we’d do well to seek out the living waters of a creek, a lake, or an ocean. Be still before what is and listen.

 

 

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