Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Pirates and Stuff

Lately I have found myself somewhat surrounded by pirates. This is not necessarily by design, though it may be a result of predeliction.

Bought The Gigantic Book of Pirate Stories, which I named (accurately, I think) Possibly the Coolest Book in the Entire Universe. It has stories, histories, ballads, poems, and other random stuff like ships' charters and a section on the last words of famous pirates. Plus I traded a bunch of stuff in to the used bookstore where I got it, so I didn't spend any money and got rid of a bunch of no-longer-wanted books in exchange for it.

Then I was reading Red Seas Under Red Skies, the second book of the Gentleman Bastards sequence, which is cool simply for combining the epic fantasy and con artist genres--really effectively--and halfway through that book turns into a sort of pirate story.

Yesterday I read the beginnings of a few different YA novels, and was reflecting on how dismal the Young Adult genre can be. Then I picked up Victory, by Susan Cooper, which Yes! is largely about sailing ships (though being much about Admiral Nelson the ships are of a less illegal variety). I read the first couple pages and sighed in relief; Cooper's writing was like diving into a swimming pool after a long time toiling in the hot sun. There's something about a good writer who has been writing for years, a writer whose sentences and paragraphs and rhythm are so self-assured that there can be no question she knows what she is doing, that is completely different from any other reading experience in the world. The sense of this crosses genres; one can get it as easily from a book intended for small children, young adults, or anyone else.

All these nautical encounters will, sooner or later, lead to a re-watching of Pirates of the Caribbean--either all three or the first one multiple times. Maybe both. I can feel it. I was thinking earlier that one of the best parts in the first one is the bit just before the Black Pearl and Barbossa's ship have at each other--when the two ships are pulling alongside each other, all stops pulled, battle about to be joined, and the crews yelling and screaming wordless hostility. It creates a moment of almost unendurable tension before that tension explodes along with the charges in the cannons.


Bruce Gee said...

Here's a challenge: Read all 20 (or is it twenty one?) novels by Patrick Obrian if you want to really understand, not just pirates, but sealife. My favorite series of all time.

I've probably already tried goading you in this direction. Better than Hornblower.

I need to borrow the Pirate book, soon.

Ethan said...

Now that IS tempting. I've been meaning to get into both O'Brian and Horatio; and we have pretty much the whole set of O'Brian sitting on the shelves at the library. Waiting for me.

Sometime I'll show you the copy of "Horatio Hornblower" my grandpa gave me several years ago. He got it when he went off to Europe for the War, and carried it with him the whole way.

NOT Freddy Jones said...

O'Brian is much more interesting than Hornblower. The characters are a lot more fun, too.