Waltzing with Lady Luck
A Novel with Teeth
By Clark Snow
Black Rose Writing, 2012
Softcover, 225 pp., $
So what would you do if you won the lottery? Would you keep fishing? Would you pay off the boat loan and the mortgage? Would you upgrade to your dream boat and house? Or would you walk away from fishing, feeling secure in the knowledge that you and your family are set for life?
If you decided that you still wanted to fish, how do you think your fellow fishermen would react to you? Would everybody treat you the same as they did before you hit the jackpot? Would some resent you? Clark Snow's novel "Waltzing with Lady Luck" raises these questions and more.
According to Snow's biography, he's worked on the water for some 40 years, the last 12 on coastal tugboats. However, he says his most memorable years were spent working on fishing vessels that helped him feed his family and his imagination, ultimately leading him to write this story.
Victor Janes, a young Newfoundland fisherman with a taste for adventure, emigrates to the U.S. and marries into a prominent New Bedford, Mass., fishing family. Then he wins a national lottery that pays off millions of dollars.
You think that the story's happy ending has arrived before it's even begun. But Victor and his wife Fabulia aren't people who only want to lead a life of leisure.
Victor decides he wants to keep fishing, but wants to try his hand at something no one's attempted before. He builds a prototype factory trawler that's equipped to fish in thousands of feet of water for royal red shrimp. Fabulia meanwhile starts a non-profit organization to help children and the elderly, and ultimately battered women; after some early reservations about the business side of her charitable work, the project gets rolling.
The shrimping expedition goes well, but the boat's net also comes up with manganese nodules, which, to the delight of a shrewd Vietnamese crew member, contain petrified shark teeth at their core. The crew member begins storing the nodules against Victor's orders.
And when a multi-national mining corporation learns of the manganese modules, and Victor's fishing operation gets a whole lot more complicated, especially when he's charged with harvesting the nodules without a permit — even though it's questionable whether their harvest falls under NMFS' jurisdiction. Eventually, things get crazy enough that Victor must relocate the boat and his family all the way to Brazil to try, with the help of the family lawyer, how to extricate himself from what's become an international mess.
It's a lighthearted tale that largely makes for pleasant reading. I doubt many of us are likely to hit a huge lottery jackpot anytime soon. But dreaming about what we'd do if we did costs us absolutely nothing.
And if in the process, we figure how we'd want to treat people if we came into megabucks, how we'd want people to treat us if we did and how we'd treat those around us who hit it big, well, maybe we'd be richer for it. Of course it'd be nice to have the opportunity to put the answers into practice.