Terry Glavin, The Last Great Sea

There are still a few days left, but a new entry leads my "fave 2007 read" sweepstakes, Terry Glavin's 2000 book The Last Great Sea: A Voyage Through the Human and Natural History of the North Pacific Ocean. Once again, I've been made to feel positively thick by a well-written work on a topic I felt reasonably aware of. I liked Waiting for the Macaws, but I loved The Last Great Sea. (Though I'm not sure what happened with the copy-editing at the top of page 100....)

Glavin has the rare gift of presenting dense and complex information in clear and readable prose. When I drove by the water this afternoon, it was a different North Pacific Ocean that looked at me, and I'm living in a different British Columbia as well. I can't see not teaching this in September for my "literature and environment in BC" course, because it provides exactly the kind of contemporary perspective that will let us look freshly at older environmental literature (Carr, Haig-Brown, Blanchet, etc).

My only niggle was about a blurb from the Georgia Straight on the back cover, which described the book as partly a "doomsday rebuff." I suppose it is, in that the last page says, "The world is not coming to an end," but that same final page remarks, "We are not just bit players in what goes on out there" (217). Yes, the North Pacific Ocean is more powerful and more important than we are, and yes, the planet is more complicated than (IMHO) we will ever understand, but jeez, we're beating the crap out of it in so many ways. While I'm all for realism and better information, I don't know that we're better off with a "doomsday rebuff."

(And I don't think the book provided this anyway -- which is why the blurb seemed to me an odd choice.)

Another book to buy for as many people as I can find to read it!


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