Saturday, April 10, 2010

Book Review: Deep Water, A Sailor’s Passage by E. M. Kahn

Reviewed by Alan Chin
Published by Harrington Park Press
242 pages

Gene lives and works in Manhattan, but he spends much of his free time sailing the waterways in and around that metropolis, from New York harbor, to Long Island Sound, to Martha’s Vineyard. He hires a woodworker, Kevin, to work in his shop, and the two soon become lovers. Kevin is a decade younger, a handsome blond, and emotionally needy. Gene considers himself lucky, and commits to this relationship wholeheartedly, even though Kevin likes to sleep around. They manage a fragile relationship.

Although Kevin does not share Gene’s love of sailing, he acquires a small skiff and learns the sport. As their relationship deepens, so does their love for the sea, and for adventure. Gene trades his nineteen-foot daysailer in on a twenty-two-foot boat so that they can take overnight trips. As the years roll by the boats get more seaworthy and the trips longer. Sailing solidifies their relationship. Their love for each other seems bound to their, now mutual, love of adventure on the water.

This sensitive journey through the comedy and tragedy of life is beautifully written. Simply put, I loved this book. I love any story that opens my heart, makes me believe in humanity, and teaches me how to be a more compassionate human being, and this tale scored a bulls eye on all counts.

It a tale of two loves – love of the sea, love between two men – and both were delightfully intertwined. This is one of those rare books with the wisdom to shed light on my own sixteen-year relationship.

Unlike most books I’ve read that deal with the loss of a loved one to AIDS, this story did not dip too heavily into the pain, frustration and suffering. That part of the story was mercifully brief. This is a love story, a story of survival, and how Gene’s love of the sea play a part in both.

Here’s a taste:
“I felt I had a lot to teach him, not about sex, but about feeling entitled to love, learning to expect it as a regular thing, like the sun and rain, every day. I suspected that he operated from a belief in scarcity, whether of money, good fortune, or love. Loving was like breathing and peeing and it flowed through us like the tides, with its source unstoppable and ever renewed.”

There is another line in this marvelous book that reads “Long live the voices of those who plead for mercy.” Well, I’d like to add, long live the writer who can so masterfully weave a tale of love. Thank you, Mr. Kahn, for sharing your life.

To lean more about this author and book, press here.


Victor J. Banis said...

Alan, this is one of the most beautiful books I've ever read, and your review captures it perfectly. It's a very unique book, like nothing else I've ever come across. I can't help wondering if the author has done anything else.

AlanChinWriter said...

Victor, I agree that this book is wonderfully unique. I went looking for more of Kahn's work but couldn't find any. I've exchanged emails with him and asked for an interview, which he agreed to, so one of my questions will be why he hasn't published more. He's obviously an accomplished writer, seems strange to only have one book out there.