Men's Lives
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Men's Lives

3.79 of 5 stars 3.79  ·  rating details  ·  78 ratings  ·  8 reviews
An eloquent portrayal of a disappearing way of life of the Long Island fishermen whose voices--humorous, bitter and bewildered--are as clear as the threatened beauty of their once quiet shore.
Paperback, 352 pages
Published January 12th 1988 by Vintage (first published 1986)
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Jun 11, 2008 Suzanne rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: fishermen
This is an insightful and well-researched book about the lives and struggles of commercial fisherman who live and work on the south fork of Long Island. In it the author chronicles the hardships these men face trying to make a living amidst increased government regulation and restriction. Clearly this remains a controversial issue and the author is fair in presenting differing points of view. The question remains whether such regulations are necessary (for example the legal length of sea bass) a...more
The "men's lives" are those of the fishermen of the south fork of Long Island (now my neighbors). The quality of their lives is as often decided by quotas set in Albany or by the competing demands of sports fishermen as it is by the wind and the tides. Matthiessen learned to go haul-seining with the baymen and evokes the joy, hard work and fragility of life on the water.
Benjamin Ferdinand
“Men’s Lives” is a sad elegy to a lost way of life, a scathing criticism of the lobbyists and misguided bureaucrats that helped destroy it, and a lively, informal history of the shore-fishing industry on Long Island.

Some chapters read like interviews, with little in the way of editing esoteric fishing terms or the informal "Bonacker" language. (The Bonac accent is said to be akin to the spoken language of the working class settlers who came from England in the 17th century; once proudly touted a...more
This book lacks a clear direction. Sometimes it's a bland oral history of South Fork fishermen. Other times it's a commentary on fish regulation rules, gentrification of the Hamptons, or life as a fisherman. It was at its best when it was an autobiographical account of the author's time as a commercial fisherman and charter captain. What it's not is a book I would recommend, save for descendants of the fishing families or those very interested in South Fork fishing history. I don't know why I re...more
Feb 21, 2011 Jack rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone
Recommended to Jack by: Author
Great pictures of the old ways fishing on Long Island sea. Stories of death at sea. Stories about the loss of the old ways.

Some of the pictures are of Indians of the Shinecock tribe.

If memory serves me correctly a chapter contained a fisherman's story about his friend. He looked at his friend fishing near the surf line on a not too rough day and looked over seconds later and the boat was gone without a trace. Such is life at sea!
Win Dunwell
I knew the fishermen in this book. I could watch them for hours when I was a teenager camping on the beach some 50 years ago. Peter's observations and friendships in words.
I originally picked this book up (literally) because it looked so bad. Turns out it is about fishing, and it's STILL not bad.
Good account of the lives of professional fishermen on Long Island
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Peter Matthiessen was born in New York City in 1927 and had already begun his writing career by the time he graduated from Yale University in 1950. The following year, he was a founder of The Paris Review. Besides At Play in the Fields of the Lord, which was nominated for the National Book Award, he has published six other works of fiction, including Far Tortuga and Raditzer. Mr. Matthiessen's par...more
More about Peter Matthiessen...
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