Pre-Release, publication set for 10/17/18
A boat is a hole in the water you throw money into,” is one of thousands of sayings that denies the truth which every sailor respects: a boat is conduct into a hostile environment. Water is a hostile environment. Seafarers are so afraid of it that we make jokes about running aground, catching fire, and blowing up; accidents happen. But that danger is the bond that holds together otherwise free-spirited individuals into one cohesive lot.
- River Queens
Based on a review copy of the book, I was pleased that my initial impressions were shallow. Initial thoughts (after reading the leaf notes alone) were a presented heavy handedness, calling hail to the great American novel as many small publications aspire every year. Determining what I was actually to be reading required cracking the first page and just taking it on directly. The title of the book, ‘River Queens: Saucy boat, stout mates, spotted dog, America’ supported a potential hyperbolic wreck and presented a feeling of ‘sarcastic voting-season nationalism on a paddle boat ride’.
The sarcasm was gratefully imagined (unfortunately, so was the paddle boat) and this memoir very much matches the description of ‘great American novel’. It only took two pages to hit quotable text and distinctly beautiful descriptions. Now I love the title.
The memoir ‘River Queens’ conversationally journals the experience of hard labor for the love of ideal alone. Alexander Watson (author) and Dale Harris, partners in love and business, set aside their investments and purchase a brokedown 1950’s wooden Chris-Craft yacht, found listing (and heeling) in a backwater marina. At risk of loss due to flooding, rot and lack of maintenance, Alex and Dale put in the work and start their journey toward being respectable ‘Riverfolk’.
The book follows the entire process, from boat purchase and restoration, to travelling the Ohio River (among others), and a revival of technology minimalist conversation. The only real intent of the author being to go someplace and enjoy the journey getting there. The experience of the reader is to float alongside and enjoy the ridealong.
The cast of characters is VIBRANT and the effort applied to capture the nuance and dialect of the individuals is nothing short of amazing. I want to know these folk and smoke (unlit) cigarettes while chatting with them. It is easy to imagine swatting mosquitos and listening to stories under the stars; to see where predjudice will reside, but may be set aside because shared values are more important than closed doors.
It takes bastardly guts to saddle the living creature that is ‘water’ and expect it to care for you as much as you it. I wouldn’t do it. Books are as close as I want to ever get to drowning and creatures nibbling on my corpse. With that said, this book needs to be sold and promoted between copies of other daring tales like Huck Finn (for the river, coveralls, and narrative) and Hemingway’s “To Have and Have Not” (for the utter financial dispair communities feel and adventure of tackling the unsurmountable).
Unfortunately, I expect many people and media outlets are going to purchase/discuss this book for many of the wrong reasons. Two men on a boat and the title conjure up a misleading stereotype which the author might have to battle in order for people to depart perception and embrace the narration.
In photography, text, and I assume reality- neither Alex nor Dale are what reader may have preconcieved as ‘River Queens’.
- Salty nouveau veterans of the river life? Yes.
- Staunch and emotionally present men with muddy river water in their veins? Absolutely.
- Stereotypes? Anything but.
The below is an affiliate link which has earned me a lifetime total of under $1 across the entire site :) #moneyfail