Sunday, July 24, 2011
The Requiem Shark
I came across this book in a funny manner. One of my co-workers had seen the book on the shelf and pulled it out, setting the cover facing forward so as to attract attention and to fill up some shelf space. The book sat there for a couple weeks and I kept looking at it and looking at. Finally, intrigued by the title, I decided I'd check it out. It's a novel about pirates! There is a lack of adult novels on pirates. I don't know why this is but I have found finding such novels to be a challenge. So I decided to check this out. Lo and behold, this book must have been withdrawn at some point and returned to the shelves without it being marked withdrawn. The book wasn't in the computer system any longer. Who knows how long it sat before I finally opted to read it?
Once I read it, I figured out why we withdrew it. It wasn't very good. It's a historical novel in the sense that it is about the life of the pirate Black Bart Roberts. The story is told by William Williams, a young man who grew up in a well-to-do family. He is forced into service as Roberts' biographer. The book details Roberts' Moby Dickesque hunt for a boat laden with treasure. Roberts leads his crew around the world in search of the boat, plundering where they get a chance and increasing Roberts' renown.
One thing I did like about this book is that it did seem to capture the reality of being a pirate. It's not Johnny Depp as Jack Sparrow. No one says "arrrgh", no parrots and, surprisingly, very little in the way of battles. The typical setup is Roberts pulls alongside a ship, says he's taking them over, and everyone surrenders. Rarely are shots fired. Often times the crew, if not the boat, joins them. Reading the book, you get the idea that Roberts would make a great recruiter for some HR firm if he were to be propelled into the future.
On the other hand, the reality isn't entertaining. Lots and lots of people die, including Roberts. And Roberts doesn't die in some heroic fashion. It's not as bad as some of the other deaths that come from disease (the venereal ones were not much of a pleasure about which to read) or hunger. It was very anti-climactic.
With everyone dying, you don't get too attached to any character for too long. Williams takes up with a prostitute for a few weeks until she dies of some mysterious fever. That's the extent of romance. So you have a pirate book with no battles, no women, little conflict, and a lot of sailing. I just didn't enjoy it very much.
I ended up putting the appropriate withdrawn markings on the book and placing it out for sale. It is still sitting there untouched.