Friday, January 15, 2010

The Forty Fathom Bank

A week or so ago I nominated Conrad's Typhoon as the best nautical novella or short story. With a work of such stature one might think there would be no competition, but in fact I seriously considered naming instead Les Galloway's masterpiece The Forty Fathom Bank.

Self-published in 1985, and in 1994 - four years after the author's death - picked up by Chronicle Books, The Forty Fathom Bank is a haunting story of the greed and evil which may lurk in us all. Like Conrad, Galloway was a merchant seaman and the book is authentic in its nautical detail, but that's the least of this troubling tale. I am not going to give a synopsis (here's one) but I will offer the book's preface, a quote from Socrates:

And when he finds that the sum of his transgressions is great he will many a time like a child start up in his sleep for fear, and he is filled with dark forebodings.

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