Edwin Arnaudin's Reviews > Log of the S.S. the Mrs. Unguentine

Log of the S.S. the Mrs. Unguentine by Stanley Crawford
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's review
Jan 24, 2011

really liked it
Read from January 18 to 21, 2011

An intriguing, experimental, literary novella. A married couple set sail on a barge, which the husband turns into his own floating world. He plants a small forest of trees, populates it with a variety of animals, and builds structures such as a giant dome out of materials fishes from the ocean's depths, all with no intention of returning to land. Moving throughout the tropics, the wife grows increasingly restless and yearns for a life on solid ground.

And why wouldn't she? Her only companion is a man who'd rather leave notes for her around the ship than speak with her. Some days, she doesn't see him for days while he disappears to an unknown quadrant of their world. She wants a child, but doesn't know how to begin to broach the subject. It's all so lonely, but then there are wonderful days that make her believe she can endure. If only there were more of those days.

Crawford conveys all and much more through remarkable language in sprawling 1st person paragraphs from Mrs. Unguentine that doubles as the ship's log. It's an odd story and feels like it could go anywhere (which is arguably does). About a dozen pages in, at the introductory description of the non-traditional forest and the ship purposefully hanging out in the tropics, it struck me as a quasi creation story. Here is one man's uncompromising quest to create a world as he sees fit, and it's a fascinating one, though immensely frustrating to its other occupants. I'm sure there's much more commentary to be found in its pages, but Crawford's little book feels anything but small. It's actually quite epic.
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