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3 out of 4 stars
Review by Guppy
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The story begins with the author’s engineering college days, where he describes his close friends the “Wild Bunch” with original similes like:
“He reminds you of a coiled spring; you never know which direction it will take off once you release it.”
Girisam and his friends spend their days skipping class to watch movies, and he discusses both the movies and relates people and stories in real life to those he has seen in these movies.
The book continues chronologically through his first experience as a junior engineer on a ship carrying iron ore. Girisam describes the ship’s parts by relating them to the Titanic and the actor’s positions in the same movie. He explains both his steep learning curve and the functional purpose of the ship parts he worked on in a concise and easy to follow manner. On this first ship he proves his worth through hard work and innovative solutions, which sets a pattern that results in his rise to chief engineer.
From this point the book changed from a chronological life phase structure to sections sorted by event type. Girisam writes about his family, close calls, triumphs, and random thoughts including his dreams. The close call section was my favourite part of the book; it describes emergencies like the engine room flooding, and the fixes he applied. I really liked how the bad guys, who were mostly cocky, know-it-all more senior engineers were proved wrong by Girisam’s reasoning and fixes.
Songs were just as influential as movies on Girisam. He writes of how he frustrates his wife by being too agreeable because of a song that he interpreted as proclaiming agreeableness is the ultimate expression of love. His “good guy personality” and how he views much of life is shaped by songs and the heroes of the musical movies he watched. His shower singing occasionally gets him into some hilarious situations!
The writing style is clipped and very concise with no unnecessary words. English is Girisam’s second language but you would never know if he hadn’t admitted it. The similes are beautiful and well thought out, and the tone is friendly and entertaining. His love of his family and friends is evident in the lengthy descriptions of them. His colleagues are described in minimal detail and their positions on the ship are given as their names. Though this works well when keeping track of the operational hierarchy of the ships it gets confusing in the close call section where the events aren’t chronological and dates and ship names aren’t given.
Plot wise the Merry Mariner is a fantastic adventure peppered with loosely and eventually completely unrelated tangents. For example, when describing his first day as a junior engineer he ends up describing karate and his (future) daughters getting ready in the morning. The structure of the book could be greatly improved with the addition of dates and ship names. The book lacks a conclusion, other than the conclusion of the very random last section. These plot and structural issues distract and confuse.
Overall the Merry Mariner is a delightful tale of mechanical adventure at sea and a memoir of a man who loves his family and friends immensely. I rate this book 3 out of 4 stars, let down only by the plot and structure issues.
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Great Review! 😀
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But overall it's an amazing book and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Mfurr sounds like a plausible reason to remove the names and dates. Good to hear that you and Princekp have already read the book, it certainly is full of wonderful high seas adventures.
― Ernest Hemingway