Hard Bottom: A Novel

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University Press of New England, 2001 - Fiction - 347 pages
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Caught between the increasingly industrialized fishing business and the relentless development of his native Cape Cod, Ollie Cahoon, thirty-six and working a dragger out of Chatham, Massachusetts, feels ever more adrift both at sea and on land. In a desperate effort to compete with the huge, mechanized boats of large-scale fisheries, Ollie goes deeply into debt, yet still finds himself fishing the "hard bottom" rock- and debris-strewn beds avoided by larger boats.

When his mate Pig leaves for more lucrative work, Ollie reluctantly hires his brother-in-law, whose innocent but costly mistake only adds to Ollie's troubles. On shore, Ollie faces the disintegration of his marriage and separation from his young son. On top of everything else, Ollie has become the town pariah, since his refusal to sell water rights to land he owns stands in the way of a discount mall that may save the town's faltering economy. Beaten down by his financial, marital, and legal burdens, Ollie is slowly but inexorably driven toward a final desperate stand.

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User Review  - Jane Doe - Kirkus

Sailor/novelist Michelsen (To Sleep With Ghosts, 1992, etc.) sets his latest on Cape Cod, where the environmental toll of urban sprawl—plus the anguish of fishermen trying to compete with big boats ... Read full review

Hard bottom: a novel

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

In the post-Rabbit Angstrom world of fiction, men in their thirties are good bets to screw up their own lives. The question is whether their creators are able to put a new twist on the mess. A ... Read full review


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About the author (2001)

G. F. Michelsen, a prolific novelist and journalist, has taught writing at NYU and Hunter College. He has also worked as a seaman and officer on coastal freighters in northern Europe; commanded fishing boats out of Falmouth, Chatham, and Sandwich, Massachusetts; and performed numerous blue-collar jobs. The recipient of an NEA fellowship in fiction, Michelsen is the author of To Sleep With Ghosts: A Novel of Africa (1992).

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