Written by Jen Finn
Monday, 31 October 2011
Bird of Passage
By E.K. King
Infinity Publishing, 2010
Softcover, 276 pp., $14.95
Shark-tracking trip with scientist is the basis for an entertaining first novel
“Sharks • sex • science” scream the words on the back cover used to promote E.K. King’s first novel, “Bird of Passage.” The better description of the world young Calvin Landry stumbles into also
appears on the back cover: “Hard work, no pay, and embarrassing conditions.”
The story is based on King’s first trip tracking sharks in the Atlantic Ocean with Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution scientist Frank Carrie. As our story begins, Calvin, a local artist/auto mechanic, has spent a long night at a local watering hole, mourning his friend Dave’s untimely death.
A tough-as-nails woman named Georgette picks up a pickled Calvin at said watering hole. When Calvin reconsiders engaging in an adult sleepover with her, the now-furious Georgette boots him from the truck.
Not getting lucky is actually Calvin’s lucky break. If Georgette doesn’t kick Calvin to the curb, Woods Hole researcher Frank Carrie doesn’t roll by and offer him a lift — and eventually the chance to join his Bird of Passage crew as mechanic and ultimately harpooner on a shark-tracking trip.
Calvin battles seasickness and mechanical problems on the boat. He gains new friends among the crew, including Joni, a beguiling but complicated scientist. Calvin is smitten with Joni, but the feeling isn’t immediately mutual.
Meanwhile, Calvin becomes immersed in the routine of finding, tagging and tracking the sharks. The relentlessness of tracking
resembles fishermen’s drive to find the fish. Calvin says early in the story that he’s following his bliss. It leads him to an unlikely place, but ultimately, it proves a priceless — and entertaining — journey.
— Linc Bedrosian
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