Sunday, July 25, 2010

Sunday Morning Coffee: Saltillo; Mau Pilailug; Sunken Ship at WTC; Jonathan Barnes

[Saltillo, "Remember Me," from Ganglion, released 2006]

Heat inescapable...canary seeks shade in a sycamore...lobster offers coffee infused with a spoonful of cold, cold vanilla ice cream...

One of the world's greatest navigators, Mau Piailug, died last week. A Micronesian, in 1976 he sailed alone-- and without compass, sextant or charts-- the 2,500 miles of open ocean from Hawai'i to Tahiti, demonstrating that the peopling of the Pacific islands was deliberate, not due to chance or accident. The Economist in its obituary describes Piailug as a poet of the trek (for the full obit, click here):

"...he would point his canoe into the right slant of wind, and then along a path between a rising star and an opposite, setting one. With his departure star astern and his destination star ahead, he could keep to his course. By day he was guided by the rising and setting sun but also by the ocean herself, the mother of life. He could read how far he was from shore, and its direction, by the feel of the swell against the hull. He could detect shallower water by colour, and see the light of invisible lagoons reflected in the undersides of clouds."

Two weeks ago, in the layers beneath the city, construction crews at the World Trade Center site in lower Manhattan uncovered the bones of an 18th-century ship. As David Dunlap wrote in the New York Times (for full story, click here):

"In the middle of tomorrow, a great ribbed ghost has emerged from a distant yesterday."

Lobster and canary are reading The Domino Men by Jonathan Barnes (Harper 2009; first pb 2010). What a great read! If you like Gaiman's Neverwhere, you will like The Domino Men. Think also Clive Barker and Ramsey Campbell mashed with John Le Carre. The protagonist reminds me of Jimmy Stewart in The Man Who Knew Too Much, or Cary Grant in North by Northwest, with a Lovecraftian cabal as his enemies.

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