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Sunday, 4 March 2007

Review: The Perfect Storm, Sebastian Junger (1997)

Junger says that before he started writing this book, in October 1991 he went outside with his girlfriend to watch the storm that he would later describe as a journalist. "I was dawdling as a writer," he says,

spending most of my time working for tree companies. I don't see it as a moment of truth, though. The moment came a few months later when I hit my leg with a chainsaw and was injured quite badly. It forced me to take stock of myself. It jolted me. I realised my life wasn't going as planned. I kept thinking: 'You're about to turn 30, what are you doing? Where are you going?'

Because he was working in Gloucester, Massachusetts, he learned that a boat had disappeared in the storm. He took four years to write the book.

It is an entertaining read and well worth the time invested. While some of the description of the weather itself, without any people involved to create suspense, is a bit slow-going, in general I would recommend this book.

The Hollywood film, which was released in 2000, and which I watched when I was living in Japan, differs in many respects from the book. This is, however, to be expected. The film omits the many other rescue efforts that were launched over the days the storm was raging. It concentrates on the swordfish boat that sparked the story for Junger, the Andrea Gail. In fact the film goes where Junger fears to tread in the book. As a journlist, he is keen to eliminate any embroidery that would distort the truth. The filmmakers had no such compunctions. As a result, the film shows scenes that are not in the book.

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