Blaire's Reviews > Spartina
by John Casey
by John Casey
I'm not sure why this book won the National Book Award. There are lots of well-written books published every year. I think the thing that sets this one apart is its depiction of a vanishing way of life - that of a New England man trying to make a living from the sea. I know the southern coast of New England intimately and grew up around men very much like the hero of this book, Dick Pierce. Mr. Casey has gotten the stubborn, non-verbal self-reliance of his protagonist exactly right, especially as contrasted with the nouveau riche "players" who are taking over his home town. The other thing I really enjoyed was the description of the coastline with its marshes, salt ponds and spartina grass. It was a visceral experience for me. I was less enthusiastic about the two principal women in the book. Dick Pierce's wife is pretty much just sketched in - a place holder - and we find out almost nothing about her. The other female, Elsie, is more complex, but not really believable and not really likeable. Way too much of the book is spent on her relationship with Dick. I think the author would have been better served by eliminating her and concentrating on the man and his boat.
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