Saturday, January 12, 2008

Servants of the Fish: A Portrait of Newfoundland After the Great Cod Collapse - Myron Arms

The Basics: Servants of the Fish: A Portrait of Newfoundland After the Great Cod Collapse, Myron Arms, 2004, 242 pages, hardcover

How I found it: I found it in the featured local non-fiction section of the Halifax Public Library. I travelled around Newfoundland a few summers ago so this book looked interesting.

What's it about?: Arms had sailed up from his home port in the Eastern United States to Newfoundland every summer for several years before the closure of the cod fishery. This book details his circumnavigation of the island by sailboat several years after the cod fishery was closed. He stops in at some of the same small fishing villages and outports and talks to old friends from previous trips. His aim is to understand and document the human face of the cod collapse.

Did I like it?: I found this book fairly interesting. As a Western Canadian, I don't really know too much about the cod fishery, except that there used to be tons of cod and now there are none. I didn't really understand the effect that the collapse of cod stocks had had on Newfoundland until I read Arms' book. While the book was interesting as a study on the effects of the cod fishery, and as a sailing travelogue, I have read much better books in both veins (namely The Secret Life of Lobsters, and An Embarrassment of Mangoes).

Will you like it?: For pure reading pleasure, I recommend either of the two books above over Arms' book, but if you are interested in life in rural Newfoundland, I do recommend this book.

But don't take my word for it: Some reader reviews from the American Amazon, and the author's website are all I could find.

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