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#7 - Rachel Carson's Under the Sea-Wind

Under the Sea-Wind was Rachel Carson's first book, written after a couple lengthy magazine articles on the sea she wrote were well-received. Unfortunately, the book fell under the radar, being released shortly before U.S. entry into WWII, and remained largely undiscovered by the public until Carson's follow-up, The Sea Around Us, became a hit.

...That said, I'm not sure Under the Sea-Wind would have sold well on a wide scale on its own merits. Not that it's bad - it's just not that accessible and can be hard to follow. Carson's prose is thick with imagery that's evocative and beautiful but often hard to cut through. The frequent change of narrators is meant to emphasize the tenuousness of life on the sea coast and hammer home how nature should be viewed as a great tapestry and truly should have no one main actor, but combined with the gilded prose, it's often hard to find a thread through the proceedings.

Still, the writing is undeniably striking, and it's notable for how Carson manages to anthropomorphize her cast without blunting their basic natures - her ocean is always beautiful and without malice but indeed red in tooth and claw. Even a little mackerel, a chance hatch from on of billions of eggs, seems a miracle after we see all the trials he must evade even to survive to adulthood. I can't, though, recommend this as a start to Carson.

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