The Last Marlin: The Story of a Family at Sea

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9781441784841: The Last Marlin: The Story of a Family at Sea

[MP3CD audiobook format in vinyl case]

[Read by Lloyd James]

The Last Marlin is an unforgettable memoir of growing up in the fifties. Young Fred is a Jewish boy stretched between the divergent values of parents who cannot tolerate one another. Fred's father, Abe, is a brilliantly talented salesman whose relentless will drives him to succeed, whatever the cost. He marries Stella, an abstract artist, the student of De Kooning and Hans Hoffmann, but also the daughter of a wealthy industrialist with whom Abe forges an alliance. When the marriage founders, Fred's world is assaulted and he must negotiate the tense family divide.

Scenes range from Long Island synagogues and smoky nights with legendary painters to the boats of drug smugglers in Bimini and the marlin-rich waters of the Gulf Stream, where Fred sinks boats and battles thousand-pounders, believing that fishing is the answer to all problems. Woven through this compelling narrative are moving insights about childhood, families, and a love of the sea.

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Review:

His father, Abe, was a superb salesman who parlayed personal charm and client loyalty into success despite a series of debilitating ailments. His mother, Stella, was a painter who numbered among her friends Jackson Pollock and Louise Nevelson; she despised the affluent lifestyle her husband cultivated and viewed his taking a job with her father's lighting-fixture company as a betrayal. Before and after their divorce, writes Fred Waitzkin, "Mother and Dad warred within me." His unsparing memoir depicts a larger war within the family waged by grandparents, aunts and uncles, and his own brother, who fled from their parents' troubles into a bohemian, self-destructive life. Young Fred embraced orthodox Judaism and "cultivated [his] conventional side" to emulate Abe, yet he also dreamed of being a writer. Through it all, fishing--beloved by Abe, despised by Stella--remained his escape and his comfort. Waitzkin, who proved with Searching for Bobby Fischer that he could use the particulars of an avocation to illuminate the emotional needs it assuaged, does the same here with wonderfully evocative details about fishing. A closing scene chronicling a 1998 hunt for tuna with his wife and two children tentatively suggests that this generation of Waitzkins has found some measure of the happiness that eluded Abe and Stella. --Wendy Smith

About the Author:

FRED WAITZKIN is the author of Searching for Bobby Fischer and has written for The New York Times Magazine, Esquire, Sports Illustrated, and Motorboating and Sailing. He lives in New York City and Martha's Vineyard and fishes regularly in the Bahamas.

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Fred Waitzkin
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