After Joe Gould's Secret - 'a miniature masterpiece of a shaggy dog story' ("Observer") - here is another collection of stories by Joseph Mitchell, each connected in one way or another with the waterfront of New York City. As William Fiennes wrote in the "London Review of Books", 'Mitchell was the laureate of the waters around New York', and in "The Bottom of the Harbor", he records the lives and practices of the rivermen, with love and understanding and a sharp eye for the eccentric and strange. This is some of the best journalist ever written.
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(198mm x 129mm x 18mm)
Publisher: Vintage Publishing
Country of Publication:
UK Kirkus Review »
The articles Mitchell wrote for The New Yorker in the 1940s and 1950s established him as the finest staff writer in the history of the magazine and one of the greatest journalists America has produced. The six stories in this collection, all concerned with the lives of the people who worked and lived on the New York waterfront, break all the accepted rules of how journalists should write. The impeccable sentences unwind themselves at a leisurely pace and the significance of the story Mitchell wants to tell is couched in subtle symbolism. The best story in this book, "Mr Hunter's Grave", needs only the slightest tweak and bluff to turn it into a short story of the highest order. Mitchell shines a torchlight into places we rarely dare to look-the bottom of the harbour; the darkest recesses of the soul. (Kirkus UK)
US Kirkus Review » This is a series of sketches about marine life and some unusual mariners in and around present-day New York City. Written in a tone of nostalgia, relying to a great extent on human interest appeal, the result is a skillful blending of natural history, social comment and the personal profile. The book might be compared to a combination of John Kiernan's recent A Natural History of New York and Meyer Berger. The author traces the origins of Sloppy Louie's sea food restaurant at 92 South Street - the main street in the Fulton Fish Market; discusses the composition of New York Harbor; the rat menace on the waterfront and in some surprising areas within the city; and he laments the decline of the oyster industry on Staten Island's southern shore - once a thriving community founded before the Civil War by some free Negroes who came from the eastern shore of Maryland to work the oyster beds. There is a lengthy description of the dragger fishing fleet which works out of Stonington, Connecticut in Fishers Island Sound, and of their most enterprising and respected captain - Ellery Thompson who is both oceanographer and amateur painter. He ends with an account of shadfishing and the rivermen in Edgewater, New Jersey - across the Hudson River from the upper west side of Manhattan. Entertaining and painlessly informative. (Kirkus Reviews)
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