BLOOMSBURY, £10.99. ORDER FOR £9.99 (FREE P&P) FROM 0870 079 8897
The Highest Tide, by Jim Lynch
A teenager on the beach learns to make ripples in the real world
Wednesday 12 October 2005
Miles retreats from these problems into marine biology. He lives beside the Puget Sound in in the Pacific Northwest of the US, and is obsessed by the creatures that teem in its waters, from single-celled animals to leviathans washed up from the depths.
He is not left alone to pursue his aquatic interests. The combination of his diminutive stature and his habit of making emotive pronouncements on ecology proves irresistible to the media. After a couple momentous marine discoveries, he is a celebrity. Soon he is being accorded prophetic status, especially by the religious sect that decides he has spiritual insights to share.
Jim Lynch's prose in this first novel is often neatly lyrical. By moonlight, the mud flats are "an enormous glistening disc". During the day, Miles looks at the edge of his bay, "where cedars and firs cascaded to the beach like long summer dresses". The author displays equal economic grace with the sensitivities of youth. "Grown-ups are always more fascinated by what you might become than what you are," Miles thinks, when described as the next Jacques Cousteau.
Nonetheless, there is a problem with the way in which Lynch's protagonist supplies his readers with so much information about sea-life. We learn that the giant squid has two hearts, and that it is believed by some scientists to be the fastest swimmer in existence. When the male toadfish wishes to mate, Miles reveals, it vibrates his bladder so rapidly that the resulting humming noise can be a nuisance for houseboat residents.
Much of this exposition is diverting but often makes Miles into an autocue at the expense of his inner character. At times, the novel becomes an awkward amalgam but, mostly, it presents an absorbing interchange between the science of the sea and the hidden currents of life ashore.
GlastonburyWI to make debut appearance at Somerset festival
TV reviewIt has taken seven episodes for Game of Thrones season five to hit its stride
FilmPalme d'Or goes to radical and astonishing film that turns conventional thinking about immigrants on its head
Potter's attempt to create an Essex Taj Mahal was a lovely treattv
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Cyclist who knocked down three-year-old girl says his life has been 'destroyed'
- 2 Chelsea victory parade: Chelsea mocked on Twitter as 'tens of fans' pack the streets of London
- 3 US warned by Chinese media to stop meddling or 'war will be inevitable'
- 4 Woman, 21, dies after taking contraceptive pill that 'caused fatal blood clot'
- 5 Isis burns woman alive for refusing to engage in 'extreme' sex act, UN says
Stolen Instagram photo sells for $90,000
The New York Times sparks criticism after releasing an all-white reading list
Glastonbury lineup 2015: The Women's Institute to make debut appearance at Somerset festival
Dheepan, film review: Palme d'Or prize goes to radical and astonishing film that turns conventional thinking about immigrants on its head
Game of Thrones, The Gift, Season 5, Episode 7: Why two of the show’s most iconic characters just met
As a white man, I'm surprised more women aren't tweeting the hashtag #KillAllWhiteMen
Scotland may have to leave the EU even if it votes to stay in, David Cameron confirms
The day that Britain resigned as a global power
SNP fury as HS2 finds 'no business case' for taking fast train service to Scotland
EU referendum: David Cameron's rules are a 'democratic disgrace', says French-born Scottish politician set to be denied a vote
A nation of inequality: How the UK is failing to feed its most vulnerable people