5 Things You Need to Know about Every Boat Turns South by J.P. White

Every Boat Turns South mixes memoir-like adventure with a moving coming-home tale. The book opens and closes in Florida, but its sultry and terror-filled center is set in the Turks & Caicos Islands and in the Dominican Republic. By interweaving the Florida bedside scenes with Matt’s confessional account of his wild life in the Caribbean, White subtly builds sympathy for his ne er-do-well drifter, as Matt slowly reveals the truth about Hale by coming to understand his own impulses and needs and by cherishing, through memory, all that his father had taught him. The writing in both sections forcefully lyrical and full of maritime detail (sailors will love this book) suggests an autobiographical prompt, but clearly the author is in command of a style that effectively serves his complex plot. The flashbacks pulse with sensuality, the take on island natives and tourists is nothing less than superb: The hotel swarms with interracial couples strung together like rosary beads . . . white women, pale as chalk, lean into black men like they ve found the Rosetta stone. White men pull at strings of mulatto women like taffy. Meringue and rum, greed and sex rule. Everything. Everyone. As one of the novel s shrewd and exotic characters says, we all have our weaknesses once we get to the islands.

J.P. White, author of Every Boat Turns South, is here with us today to tell us five things you need to know about his book that you may not realize.

Five Things You Need to Know about EVERY BOAT TURNS SOUTH
by J.P. White

1. EVERY BOAT TURNS SOUTH IS NOT YOUR TYPICAL CRIME MYSTERY NOVEL. It's the story of Matt Younger, a 30-year-old delivery boat captain who returns to Amelia Island, Florida to make a confession to his dying father about his role in the death of the favorite son. In order to make that confession, Matt must travel back over his years in the Caribbean; he must recount how he met a Dominican woman whom he fell in love with, and he must come to terms with his own guilt or he believes he too will die.

2. EVERY BOAT TURNS SOUTH IS ENJOYED BY READERS OF BOTH SEXES. One woman reader has remarked that EVERY BOAT TURNS SOUTH is a cross between Ordinary People and Body Heat, and I can't argue with that description because I wanted to mix a family drama with a Caribbean noir with more than a splash of rum. I would have thought that, on balance, women would be drawn to the elements of family drama and men to the high seas, but mostly it's been split each way equally.

3. EVERY BOAT TURNS SOUTH IS A GREAT RIDE FOR ANYONE WHO HAS EVER LUSTED AFTER THE SAILING OR ISLAND LIFE. Only about half the couples who embark on the "booze, cruise and snooze" life in the islands find the adventure bliss they are seeking. The other half routinely find trouble and lots of it including theft, infidelity, drugs, divorce, and loss of boat. All sailors know that things go wrong on boats and they love to read about other people's misadventures instead of their own.

4. EVERY BOAT TURNS SOUTH WAS WRITTEN BY A POET. As the author of four books of poetry, I'm as drawn to charged language as I am to plot. A story needs to take me somewhere I can't quite imagine, but I also need, want and expect the language to delight and surprise and keep me off-balance. I love writers whose mysteries can be easily mistaken as rich literary fiction and this includes such authors as Arturo Perez-Reverte, Eric Ambler, Henning Mankell, Ron Rash, Graham Greene, P.D. James, and even the late great John D. MacDonald.

5. EVERY BOAT TURNS SOUTH IS BASED IN PART ON REAL SAILING EXPERIENCES IN THE ISLANDS. In the early 1980s, I spent time delivering boats on the Eastern Seaboard and to the Bahamas and upper Caribbean, so I'm always drawn to harbor towns and islands as magnets for hopes, dreams and human collision. In EVERY BOAT TURNS SOUTH, Matt Younger is hired to deliver a 40' trimaran from West Palm Beach to St Thomas in the British Virgin Islands. His own credentials are suspect, but then so is his cook, Jess Dove, a shrimper's daughter from Jacksonville, and Philip Laforgue, a former cruise boat dive instructor turned ace mechanic.

As a lifelong sailor and writer, I live with charts which are storehouses of information and intrigue and all of my prose writing starts with a chart laid out on a table. It's a nifty device because the chart itself provides the possibility of how a story might unfold. In my first novel, I include a much abbreviated chart at the front to show the reader the actual route of Stardust, Matt Younger's delivery boat.

The challenge, of course, for the writer is how to bring a chart to life. If the story is going to involve travel, you have to have either first-hand knowledge of the place in question or exceptional research you can rely on for ideas. Neither is easy to come by.

The chart itself as metaphor is an engaging device because nearly every ocean chart contains the elements of a potential story: reefs, dumping grounds, islands, shipwrecks, coves, cuts, enticements and dangers a plenty. In Florida and the islands, plots do not have to be invented, only discovered and finessed because intrigue and trouble is everywhere.

In the last 35 years, J.P. White has published essays, articles, fiction, reviews, interviews and poetry in over a hundred publications including The Nation, The New Republic, The Los Angeles Times Magazine, The Gettysburg Review, American Poetry Review, and Poetry (Chicago). He is a graduate of New College in Sarasota, Florida, Colorado State University and Vermont College in Fine Arts. He is the author of five books of poems and a novel, Every Boat Turns South. You can visit his website at www.jpwhite.net.
Powered by Blogger.