Safe From the Sea by Peter Geye
Published by Unbridled Books
After the sinking of the Ragnark and the death of the majority of its crew, Olaf Torr turns to drink. Over the next 30 years, Olaf’s family falls apart: his wife has an affair, and he becomes estranged from his son and the worry of his daughter. And yet, when Olaf calls his son Noah, telling him that he is sick and needs help preparing his isolated house for winter, Noah flies to join him immediately. Noah has been more than a little annoyed with his father, first due to the drinking and lack of fatherly affection, subsequently for some inappropriate comments that Olaf made at his wedding. Even so, he knows that Olaf would not be calling if it were not terribly important. He arrives still annoyed and distant, but in the time that follows, he falls back in love with his father and begins to understand just how damaged Olaf truly was by experiencing the sinking of the Ragnark. As Olaf begins recounting to Noah the story of that fateful night, both men begin to truly find peace with themselves and one another.
At first I was unsure about Safe From the Sea. It is very well written, but with the kind of spare prose that isn’t always capable of grabbing me. In addition, the story of the shipwreck and shipping on the Great Lakes didn’t particularly appeal to me, nor was I sure I would be able to relate to Noah and Olaf’s relationship. Peter Geye didn’t let me down, however. His prose was sparse, but also evocative, particularly when Olaf is describing the night the Ragnark sank. Olaf and Noah’s relationship is so artfully reanimated that the reader cannot help but become invested in them and their interactions with one another, not to mention bereft at the thought that they are only now coming back to one another now that Olaf is so very ill.
Although it starts out a little slowly, Safe From the Sea is absolutely beautiful and will suck you in. Recommended.
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