shaken & stirred

welcome to my martini glass


nothing about that parasite*

I heart Redmond O'Hanlon's misadventure travel chronicles as much as just about anything, including Lush products. (No small thing if you've been following the discussion below.) Now, via Mr. Nouse, it comes to my attention that O'Hanlon has a new book due out in the U.S. in January. It's called Trawler, and seems to be about being out on the North Atlantic in very bad conditions.

From the Guardian profile linked to above:

The answer, completely unexpected, was a trip above the Arctic circle, in the grip of a hurricane, in winter, on the Norlantean, a trawler so battered and rusted that he thought, when he first saw it, it was derelict. His cabin had a huge inward dent in the hull, where an earlier skipper had hit something; by the time the book was published, the Norlantean was being scrapped in Denmark.

In his earlier books, the literary skill was artfully concealed. He doesn't show off as a writer, and the structure seems so natural that only when you look very hard do you see how much has been left out so that each scene is properly framed. Trawler is different. All that it really has in common with his earlier travel books is that he spends a lot of time being sick in foetid places. The danger of the storm was real and terrible, but it is also impersonal in a way that the snakes, the mosquitoes and the drunken soldiery of the earlier books were not.

Squeal of anticipation and I also might mention that O'Hanlon's the natural history editor for The Times' Literary Supplement, for those who care.

Interested parties might want to read this Salon interview from '97.

*There's this certain bit in the Amazon book where O'Hanlon talks about the terrible things he's reading about being in the water and Mr. Rowe has put a moratorium on me telling people about the ultimate, worst parasite ever over the dinner table. (It's not that I bring it up because we're eating, it just seems to naturally come up...)


  • At 9:51 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Please, please, please, please, tell the horrible parasite story. I love horrible parasite stories. You could put a warning in your header for those who are squeamish.


  • At 11:52 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    After reading O'Hanlon's book, I'm not sure to which exact parasite reference is made to as there are many. Well, Justine, the parasite is nothing other than a small male fish who somehow becomes attached to its much, much larger [female] mate.

    After a sufficient amount of time has passed, the male and the female share a blood supply and other equipment necessary for survival. Being much smaller, the male has little says-so in what happens. He is essentially a parasite, useful only for occasional breeding.

    The other, even less delicate parasite, is a reference to O'Hanlon's Amazonia adventure. It is the corindu [sp.?] fish, a spiny little toothpick of a rotten bastard that can smell human urine being expelled into its riverine habitat. When it does, it swims up the pisser's urethra. Because its spines lodge into the surrounding tissues, it cannot be pulled out.

    The only remedy is to, ouch!, amputate the penis.


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