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Grey Seas Under: 08/04/09

In recent days I've read books that seem to defy genre. First there was Outside the Lavender Closet by Martha A. Taylor (review coming) that makes a convincing nonfiction (except it's a novel). Now Grey Seas Under by Farley Mowat is just as equally convincing as historical fiction, except that it's nonfiction.

Grey Seas Under chronicles the career of the Foundation Franklin, a salvage tug, a salvage tug that worked in the rough seas off the eastern coast of Canada from 1930 to 1948. It had begun its life as the HMS Frisky in 1918 but was repurposed as a salvage tug and renamed in 1930.

In the early years of the depression, there wasn't much work in saving ships at sea or salvaging those that had run aground or sunk. Frankly, there weren't as many ships at seas and a surplus of salvage ships to do an ever dwindling job. The crew of the Franklin were often outmanned by the larger, newer ships coming up into Canadian waters from the United States where job prospects were even worse.

The history of the Foundation Franklin is told in prose, written like a novel with sparse dialogue but with no footnotes or endnotes. The book reminds me most of Barometer Rising by Hugh MacLennan, minus the romantic subplot.

I chose Mowat's account of the Foundation Franklin, for the random reading challenge. With its location and well known Canadian author, it also qualifies for the Canadian Reads challenge.

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