Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usJust finished the latest non-fiction offering from Ait/PlanetLar, Danielle Henderson's Tales From Fish Camp, which is her recounting of the highlights (and lowlights) of her time spent as a worker in an Alaskan fishing village and processing plant. It's a fascinating glimpse into a world which most of us will never experience, and it's worthwhile reading for that if nothing else. Henderson has a breezy, likeable style, and the book went by fast for me.

Which brings me to the biggest problem- it's a little bit on the slight side. She never really goes into detail on any of her exploits; she's often content to list the highlights of any given event, and disinclined to expound on any of them- and many times I was left wondering about this situation or that person and what led to this or that. I don't know whether she had self-imposed limits on what she wrote, or just didn't want to share more than the surface details, but I was a bit frustrated sometimes. To name but one example, she gets away for a week to take a well-deserved break in Anchorage, during which she re-acquaints herself with many of the creature comforts she'd missed while roughing it at the camp. And oh, by the way, she broke up with her boyfriend while she was there. Huh!?! From her comments early on about him,there didn't seem to be a problem in their relationship, then a few weks later she casually breaks up with him, and mentions it as an aside in the context of a two-page description of her Anchorage vacation. Relationships ending are usually somewhat traumatic, but you'd never know it from this! Characters are introduced, then mentioned again maybe once or twice if at all, and that's a bit distracting as well. I still don't have a good handle on exactly why she decided to take the job, since nothing we knew about her previously indicated that she would want to, other than wanting to test herself, perhaps, and make some money. Again, I'd guess space limitations are to blame, but only Danielle and Larry Young know for sure.

This is not to say that I didn't enjoy the book- I've always been interested in Alaska, and have always wanted to travel there, and this may be as close as I'll get. Don't know if I'd want to work in a fish processing plant like that (although if they paid enough, who knows...), but now I know a bit more than I did before about it. Tales is a book which can appeal to a wide variety of readers of all ages, and would be ideally suited, I would think, for school libraries and the like. Props to Young and AiT/PlanetLar for choosing to put something unusual like this out.

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