by Stephen Harrigan
Reviewed by Mary Bryan Stafford.
Stephen Harrigan’s Aransas spoke to me personally. I lived in Corpus Christi for half my life, and Aransas let me go back to spend a little time in reverie. It seemed Harrigan and I shared the same memories.
The setting lived and breathed through the novel. Harrigan brings the Aransas area to our senses in its languid and oppressive atmosphere. “And the day was similar––the perfectly calm sheet of water, the early morning air that seemed to rest like a heavy gas in my lungs, the overwhelming corrosive scent of dead fish and salt.”
I loved the references to The Tarpon Inn, Lichtenstein’s, The Petroleum Club, Spohn Hospital (although he doesn’t name it) and all the old haunts of Corpus Christi and Port Aransas. But even to those of you who have never been to the coast, you will be transported.
Of course, I was completely invested in the dolphins, their anima, their empathy and connection with humans, and the lure of that connection that could be their downfall. I fell in love with them all over again. “…if I were standing now on a sand bar starving and naked, what creature might I invoke to help stave off that special loneliness of my race. Surely that, that thing so far out in the water that it showed nothing of itself, except that one fin, but whose benevolence was an innate belief in my savage mind, a constant like the warmth of the sun.”
Harrigan’s main character, Jeff, faces the quandary of wanting to be one with the dolphin, yet free him from the confines and demands of man. It is a dilemma the reader identifies with and struggles along with the decision Jeff has to make.
I’ve always been a great fan of Harrigan, but now I would love to sit and talk with him for hours about what brought him to write this book. I plan to buy my own copy.