- Paperback: 256 pages
- Publisher: Unbridled Books; First Trade Paper edition (September 12, 2011)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1609530578
- ISBN-13: 978-1609530570
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.5 x 8.8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 76 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #801,293 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Safe from the Sea Paperback – September 12, 2011
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"A beautiful bookall shipwreck and rescue."Alyson Hagy
A rich, satisfying novel about family members who make amends after a lifetime of estrangement.”The Minneapolis Star Tribune
"an estranged father and son find reconciliation in the final week of the father’s life Geye tackles the subjects of death, dying, and living with admirable insight and courage Geye engages the complexities of family dynamics skillfully and handles especially well the kind of family grudges and misunderstandings that can cripple relationships for decades, as they do here. Inspiring, wise, and enthusiastically recommended for all readers." Library Journal
A reader can just about feel the cold spray of Lake Superior and taste the softness of the lefse . The best sections of "Safe From the Sea" are the stories Olaf tells, and the questions Noah asks, especially about the tragedy of the Ragnarøk. What we expect from a man vs. nature story is not that man will win, but that man will be wise and valiant, and give it everything he has. Olaf's account of the wreck lives up to the great tradition of adventure storytelling. His pain about the shipwreck is not only survivor's angst, but also specific guilt about a lost shipmate that he has never shared before . Olaf's last wish presents Noah with a watery physical challenge of his own, and gives the back end of the novel a touch of fairy tale, a la late John Cheever.”The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
A finely crafted first novel Give this book to readers of David Guterson and Robert Olmstead, who will be captured by the themes of approaching death and the pain and solace provided by nature.”Booklist
"At once a Great Lakes adventure, an ode to a vanished life, and a gorgeous examination of the healing of deep wounds between father and son. This is a tautly written gem."Joseph Boyden, author of Three Day Road
[A] lyric story of familial strife and reconciliation Geye excels at capturing the importance of life’s seemingly small moments and at cataloging their beauty Geye shows how relationshipshowever flawed the participantscan be salvaged and strengthened when people strive to make things work through understanding and the search for and sharing of the truth.”ForeWord Magazine
Geye is a skilled and subtle observer. Throughout the book, readers are given an affectionate and perceptive view of roughhewn northern Minnesota, not only its Walden-esque lakes and forests, but also its thrifty and honest people Geye is a gifted storyteller Geye might wince to read this, but he could be a first-rate adventure novelist. He also excels in creating characters who are ordinary and exceptional at the same timehigh praise for any author. The characters in Safe from the Sea are maturely-crafted; there are no heroes or villains in the book, just good people working through tough issues with grace and good humor.”The New York Journal of Books
Besides being a page-turning delight, his book is beautifully written, and the relationship between Noah and Olaf is one of the greatest father and son stories I've ever come across. This is a stunning novel...”Steve Yarbrough, author of Safe from the Neighbors
"Peter Geye has rendered the Minnesota north shore in all its stark, dangerous beauty, and it is the perfect backdrop for this deeply moving story of conflict and forgiveness. Safe from the Sea is a remarkable debut."Ron Rash,The Cove
"A deep hearted novel of bitten lives lived out on the cold shore of a ferocious world. In the silence of their existence, the dignity of their bearing, Geye compassionately renders the magnitudes of their despair, endurance and greatness." Robert Olmstead, author of Coal Black Horse
I don't know of another novel that better captures that stormy North Atlantic up in Minnesota called Lake Superior than Peter Geye's compelling debut novel, Safe from the Sea. He captures the wildness and the cold and braids those figurative aspects into a tenderly told story of a son and a father who has been anything but tender a riveting sea tale memorable.” Stuart Dybek, author of The Coast of Chicago
This is a character-driven story and one that demonstrates the power of memory and the bonds of blood, a story of love and hope.”bookviews.com
Peter Geye’s Safe From the Sea, which I’m actually right in the middle of right now, but I can already tell that this is a special book. Lyrical, loaded with compassion for its characters, one of which is this arresting, dangerously alluring coast of Lake Superior. This is a gripping wonder of a book.”Bruce Machart, author of The Wake of Forgiveness
What starts out as a simple story of reconciliation soon reveals itself as something much deeper. After receiving an unexpected call from his estranged and ailing father, Noah Torr journeys home to make peace with the former ore boat sailor. When his father finally tells the story of the shipwreck that haunted him for the past thirty-five years, Noah gains valuable insights that allow him to start fresh with his own growing family.”Northeast Minnesota Book Award citation
Impressive.”--Inland Seas, Quarterly Journal of the Great Lakes Historical Society
About the Author
Peter Geye received his MFA from the University of New Orleans and his PhD from Western Michigan University, where he was editor of Third Coast. He was born and raised in Minneapolis and continues to live there with his wife and three children. This is his first novel.
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Olaf's home in a rough cabin on a lake inland from Superior is familiar to Noah because that is where his Norwegian grandfather lived and where he became a champion ski-jumper, a sport both father and grandfather also mastered.
Olaf insists that he is dying and desperately wants Noah to hear of the loss of the Rag. Noah is familiar with shipping and ships and listens attentively while his father tells of his actions and pain, both physical and psychic, as a result of the terrible loss. Olaf's final request is that Noah should "bury" him in the deepest part of the lake by chaining him into a barrel-like contraption which he has made. Noah is reluctant to comply, and his sister Solveig later is horrified by the idea; she insists that he go to a doctor who confirms that his cancer is terminal.
Gradually, Noah comes to forgive his father. The struggle between the two men to overcome years of anger and feelings of abandonment is powerful and universal, but Noah even accepts the idea of burying his father as he wishes.
It begins simply: Olaf Torr, an officer and one of three survivors of a Lake Superior ore ship dubbed the Ragnarok that was lost in 1967, is dying. He reaches out to his estranged son Noah, who travels to Olaf's Northern Minnesota cabin - not to reconcile but through a sense of duty. Noah has long held resentments about his father's drinking and his inability to hold the family together after the tragedy.
Peter Geye might have turned this into a cover-up saga, where long-time secrets of what happened on that tragic night are suddenly unveiled. But thankfully, Safe from the Sea is not that kind of book. As Olaf begins to narrate that horrific story ("We had the inferno blazing beneath us, the snow squall suffocating us, seas still washing the deck"), it becomes evident that people can do everything right and life can still go wrong. Sometimes, there just aren't any answers.
"The crew? They were just a bunch of anybodies," Olaf tells his son. Noah counters: "Isn't it more fantastic to think of the guys who died as little bit heroic, as swashbuckling sailors? As something more than a bunch of yokels from Great Lakes port towns?" Olaf answers, "It's real life. In real lie, there're boys from port towns."
As Noah comes to grip that "the old man's crew of nobodies could take precedence over his mother and sister and himself" - how surviving can often mean "going under" again and again - he and Olaf begin to understand and appreciate each other for the first time.
Peter Geye obviously knows the Northern Minnesota landscape, which comes alive every bit as much as his characters. Olaf's dialogue and characteristics ring authentic. And Noah - a name synonymous with the biblical patriarch who survived the flood - has spent his adult life procuring and selling ancient maps as a career. The one map he has always needed - a blueprint to who he is and where he stands as a son and potential future father - is explored with subtlety and insight here.
Meanwhile, Noah's own struggle to make a life with an absent father has found its real reward in his relationship with his sagacious wife, Natalie, whose complications with infertility issues have marked her husband's life in ways he only fully realizes as the reconciliation with his father takes shape.
Peter Geye has delivered an archetypal story of a father and son, of the tug and pull of family bonds, of Norwegian immigrant culture, of dramatic shipwrecks and the business and adventure of Great Lakes shipping in a setting that simply casts a spell over the characters as well as the reader.
This is another fantastic novel published by Unbridled Books. I saw a mention of it on twitter and I am so glad I checked it out. I don't know why I had not heard of this book before, but am grateful it finally crossed my path.
Peter Geye writes beautifully in this story of an estranged father and son.
Noah, though he has such a tumultuous relationship with his dad, does not hesitate when Olaf calls Noah to say that he needs his help. Noah leaves his wife in Boston and heads to Northern Minnesota to stay with his dad in the cabin Noah remembers from his childhood. He discovers his father is ill, dying according to Olaf. The present story is mixed with the past story that Olaf tells Noah, of a disaster on an ore boat on Lake Superior thirtysome years ago, where Olaf was one of a few survivors. Noah knows of the story of course, but not everything that happened. This tragedy changed Noah's childhood but now he learns how it affected his father.
Geye created such amazing, three-dimensional characters that I really cared about. His physical descriptions of the surroundings made the story that much more alive.
I can't possibly do this novel justice with a review, so let me just say how highly I recommend this book.
my rating 5/5