Come Hell on High Water by Gregory Jaynes

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After twenty years as a national correspondent, a foreign correspondent, and a columnist for Time, Life, and The New York Times, Gregory Jaynes is burned out. He is worried that the creak he hears underfoot is not necessarily the stair. He has certain "snarly things" in his head that he is afraid portend analysis. Faced with these mounting concerns, Jaynes asks himself: "Pay ten grand to a shrink or haul ass to Tahiti?" He soon sets sail out of Liverpool on a cargo ship bound for the South Pacific. Unknowingly, he has booked passage on a Russian icebreaker, crewed by a surly bunch, and his fellow passengers turn out to be "a furlong closer to heaven" than his own generation. There is Toxic June, an English gerontocrat who terrifies ship's officers half her age; Ernie from Tennessee, stuck in a time of war when the sky rained kamikazes; Agatha of the Lakes, retired nurse, new bride, French-kissing flirt; Leicester of Devon, arch-foe of Toxic June; Tuber the Root Crop Tsar, the Russian cook incapable of preparing anything that ever grew above-ground; and a shark who - like the specter of death - seems to shadow the vessel. Finally, there is the author himself, irascible but sociable, tormented and laughable, a man whose tough, cranky exterior conceals a warm heart and a capacity for compassion that set him on this blunderous search for answers in the first place. Many's the time the illumination of his intellect is all that saves him from very dark exploration of purpose, that and the promise of comedy he carries everywhere. Not many men fall apart os hilariously as Jaynes, or as lyrically. He manages to pull himself together by Singapore, and by journey's end we are the richer for thegrace of his pen and the strength of his high good humor - to say nothing of the ten grand he has saved every man who has ever had the fantasy of sailing away. The story of a man simultaneously circumnavigating the globe and chasing his own tail, Come Hell on High Water proves Sart

About Gregory Jaynes

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Published October 1, 1997 by North Point Press. 256 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Education & Reference, Travel. Non-fiction

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Venturing out of his vibrating cabin en route through the Caribbean and the Panama Canal to the Pacific, Jaynes sees ``a ship full of comedy'' at his disposal, but soon finds his shipmates for the most part humorless, the food ``unremarkable to terrible.'' His favorite companions seem to be the o...

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Publishers Weekly

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Turning 47 in summer 1995, freelance journalist Jaynes, consumed by wanderlust, left his family in New York City for a three-month freighter trip from Liverpool to the South Pacific.

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Never mind that nothing much happens during Jaynes's journey: His gorgeous writing redeems the most banal events (a dinner squabble between warring retirees is comedically rendered into high drama).

Jan 12 1998 | Read Full Review of Come Hell on High Water

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