This is a bittersweet fishing story. This morning as I write, fisherman Mike Pawluk is steaming toward Montauk on the Kirsten Lee, a boat he went ground fishing on for about fourteen years. He fished with Captain Steve Lee and they were friends and still are. They’d been through changing fishing regulations together, documenting days at sea, to the quotas and catch share plans. Shrimping closed a few years ago. Mike says the fish weren’t there. The Gulf of Maine was warming. And it was hard not to pull up cod which is restricted. Long long story short. The Kirsten Lee is sold to people on Long Island. Mike was my technical expert on all things fishing as I wrote the story of Johnny, a NH fisherman, and Sofie, his daughter in my novel that comes out this week, Either the Beginning or the End of the World. He told me so many things about the moon and he’ll do this journey on the day of the super moon when it will be enormous and red. The sweet part: Mike got his own boat, a small boat, and he’s had the best season lobstering in his years of fishing.
One day when Mike and a crewman were fishing on the Kirsten Lee 40 miles off Chincoteague. The crewman became sick and had to be airlifted by a Coast Guard helicopter from the boat. Here’s a picture of the Kirsten Lee from above, taken by the rescue team in the helicopter.
You can hear many fisherman tell their stories. My daughter, Elizabeth Farish, collected oral histories of New Hampshire fishermen when she was Regional Site Manager for Historic New England, based in Portsmouth.
The Lowell Southeast Asian Water Festival, formerly Riverfest, happens every August on the Merrimack River in Lowell, Massachusetts. There’s everything Cambodia. Music, dance, ginger trees to buy, golden bracelets, river boats, lime papaya salad. I went with our family friend who is also a photographer, Ty Paterson, and she took these photos at the last celebration. She is also an interpreter of the Cambodian culture for me.
* “Farish’s writing is haunting. Beautifully written and briskly paced… An excellent choice for readers seeking a less than neatly packaged love story or a glimpse into the complicated lineage of war-torn areas.”*Starred Review, School Library Journal
“A bittersweet love story between a fisherman’s teenage daughter and a soldier returned from Afghanistan…” Either the Beginning or the End of the World “…examines the intersections of love and war in a family’s history.” ALA-Booklist
“Sixteen-year old Sofie is her daddy’s girl, having weathered real and metaphorical storms with him as he tries to make a living as a New Hampshire fisherman. [Either the Beginning or the End of the World offers] sophisticated literary prose and a narrative where love is as strong and complex as the many forces that work against it.”Recommended, Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books
“By learning the intricacies of human suffering, Sofie undergoes an empathetic awakening. Farish writes the first-person narration in unadorned prose, focusing on raw emotions and the details of the frigid wintertime setting.” The Horn Book
“Terry Farish’s stories about refugees and immigrants have been informed by her extensive work with the Red Cross in Vietnam, and you can feel that raw, authentic care given to her characters in Either the Beginning or the End of the World. It’s a love story, but it’s also a story of generations of a family, each affected by war and loss in their own ways.” Bustle
“I found that this story reminded me a lot of Taylor Swift’s song “Mine”; both Sofie and Luke, the man that she falls in love with, seem hesitant about their feelings because of their pasts, but really enjoy one another’s presence and try to ignore all future troubles when they’re together.” Teenreads