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Kris' Books.

Female. Slavic mind. Avid reader.

 I read across a broad range of book genres, with an emphasis on Aus/NZ lit, Russian and Ukrainian literature, Latin-American literature and European history.


Caterpillar Seas - Rob Fridjhon After reading this book I'm not quite certain whether to classify this book as belonging to the autobiography/memoir genre or adventure genres. Undoubtedly it has to be some sort of autobiography because the author is writing about himself and is reflecting on personal experiences, however with the sailor-style swearing and suspense the autobiography label seems to be an illusion, however the absence of over-the-top drama certainly suspends it from any affiliation with the adventure genre. In short, this is not an autobiography of an influential person, polished with niceties and harmonious writing- it is the reflections of an experienced seaman, itty gritty reality. If you want to read a book worthy of a writing award, this is not for you, but if you're interested in what would pull a young man from a good family to a precarious crime such as stealing a yacht and sailing it halfway across the world, you won't be disappointed.

Predictably, Fridjhon's motivation which led him to crime began from a small inner corruption in his sense of morality. When he was asked by the Romanian immigrant Mihai, who he met while hitchhiking across the United States, whether he would approve of criminal activity, he replied, "Depends on the type of crime, I guess", which eventually turned into, "Not really, but maybe, if the circumstances dictated it. Like if the insurance company cheated me, I suppose, or if I really needed money for an operation our something". Fridjhon had judged by appearance that his new acquaintance Mihai wasn't in a very poor financial situation, but he seemed to have forgotten that appearances are just about useless in describing the actual character of the person being dealt with.

At first Mihai offered a plan of stealing a yacht to claim the insurance money, which after some serious thought Fridjhon accepted because he reckoned it didn't violate his life philosophy that "You can anything in this life as long as you don't harm anybody else". In his opinion, the scheme wouldn't effectively harm anyone because insurance companies don't really hold any moral principles, being simply individual shareholders who earn large sums by their own economic principles. I was really surprised that he, an experienced seaman, did not immediately consider the sentimental consequences of stealing someone else's yacht. Even supposing that the owner would be refunded by the insurance company for the stolen property, wouldn't he feel some sort of sentimental loss? Isn't that harmful in a way? In my opinion it is. That's why I did not pity Fridjhon when his dealings with Mihai, "that life-affirming kick I'd set out to find when I left South Africa", blew out of control as a result of the Eastern European gangsters' manipulations with him.

In summary I really enjoyed the book. Although I wish Fridjhon could have written a more effective summary in this autobiography, I apppreciated the extensive dialogue and detail he included in the writing- I have not read many autobiographies whose authors strain their memories so much. In my opinion, I thought it was a really compelling tale of endurance and learning several life lessons in a relatively short period of time, whilst enduring the impact of the blow. Perhaps the aspect I enjoyed the most were the references to the yacht and the ocean journey. The topic of intrepid sea journeying is of interest to me, so I paid particular attention to his description of his journey, the way he navigated and endured. I was impressed by how many past emotions he managed to transfer to the text intact.