Tuesday, August 9, 2011

"Typhoon Country"

James Harper

A perfect storm at sea. Filled with the language of a working ship. The reader needs a nautical dictionary to follow it.

Typhoon. Before, during and after, told in a flat, unemotional tone. The way the story is told, there is no emotion, no intensity. The language is almost that of a textbook. But it’s the language of men doing the job they were assigned to do during the crisis of a storm. Tonelessly reported.

The captain of the ship dies of a heart attack during the storm, but that is also an unemotional report of the burial at sea. 

It’s a cargo ship and at the conclusion of the storm, after the captain is buried at sea, the ship takes aim at its next port, ready, though damaged, for its next cargo.

Rating: **** out of *****. (In spite of the “wooden” narration.)

About the Author:  “Master  mariner from Northern Ireland, James Harper started as an able seaman during the 1939-45 war and qualified for his captain’s certificate in 1948. He has been ‘in most countries in the world that have a sea-coast, and on many of the islands in the Pacific and Indian Oceans.’ Captain Harper’s long association with the sea inspires most of his stories which appear primarily in Great Britain.” P. 105.

Short Story International #27. Ed. Sylvia Tankel. (August 1981), pp. 82-105.

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