“Every day is an anxiety in my ways of getting to the water. . . . I’ve become so attuned to it, so scared of it, so in love with it that sometimes I can only think by the sea. It is the only place I feel at home.”
Many of us visit the sea. Admire it. Even profess to love it. But very few of us live it. Philip Hoare does. He swims in the sea every day, either off the coast of his native Southampton or his adopted Cape Cod. He watches its daily and seasonal changes. He collects and communes with the wrack—both dead and never living—that it throws up on the shingle. He thinks with, at, through the sea.
All of which should prepare readers: RISINGTIDEFALLINGSTAR is no ordinary book. It mounts no straight-ahead argument. It hews to no single genre. Instead, like the sea itself, it moves, flows, absorbs, transforms. In its pages we find passages of beautiful nature and travel writing, lyrical memoir, seams of American and English history and much more. We find Thoreau and Melville, Bowie and Byron, John Waters and Virginia Woolf, all linked through a certain refusal to be contained, to be strictly defined—an openness to discovery and change. Running throughout is an air of elegy, a reminder that the sea is an ending, a repository of lost ships, lost people, lost ways of being. It is where we came from; for Hoare, it is where he is going.
“Every swim is a little death,” Hoare writes, “but it is also a reminder that you are alive.” Few books have ever made that knife’s edge so palpable. Read RISINGTIDEFALLINGSTAR. Let it settle into the seabed of your soul. You’ll never forget it.
All streams flow into the deep in this meditation on the sea. Hoare (The Sea Inside) draws on all manner of lore, blending travelogue from atmospheric English seaports and windswept Cape Cod, observations of whales and other creatures living and dead (he is forever poking through the remains of seabirds, deer, and dolphins), family stories, folklore, and historical accounts of shipwrecks and naval battles. The book's heart comes from his many biographical sketches of writers and their depictions of the sea, examining sea imagery in Shakespeare's Tempest; the watery Romanticism unto death of Percy Bysshe Shelley and Lord Byron; Jack London's take on what it's like to drown; Elizabeth Barrett Browning's dread of the sea, where her brother and best friend were lost; and WWI soldier-poet Wilfred Owen's journey across the English Channel to the sodden, nightmarish world of trench warfare. Hoare examines everything the surf throws at him with raptly evocative prose: "The great whales trap the sand eels in their bubble nets, rising through the corralled fish with mouths open wide, throats like rubbery concertinas, pleats clattering with barnacles like castanets." This is a mesmerizing drift along the flows and ebbs of sea-borne life and death. Photos. \n