Jay Nussbaum,
Blue Road to Atlantis
(Warner, 2002)

The introductory pages to Blue Road to Atlantis include quotes from Oscar Wilde and Mahatma Gandhi. That combination is perfect, as this book is filled with satiric humor and life philosophy (Zen Buddhism? Hinduism?).

It is a sequel to Ernest Hemingway's The Old Man & the Sea, in which an ambitious but not well-respected fisherman happens to hook a fish that is bigger than his boat. He glories in his moment of solitary fame, but must get the fish back to port or else he will not be "El Campeon" to anyone but himself. After a long ordeal he survives, but fails to get the fish back before it is eaten by sharks.

In Blue Road to Atlantis, we get a moving and well-told sequel, from the point of view of the fish. The story is actually narrated by the remora-companion of the mate of the fish caught/killed/wasted by El Campeon. The remora's name is Fishmael (pun alert!), and he accompanies the Old Fish, a magnificent marlin (beware the satiric jabs and cutting humor). After losing his mate, the Old Fish dove deep and tried to vent his rageful grief by fighting the monsters of the deep (giant squid, sperm whales). He finally found some measure of peace, but never forgot his beloved Migdalia.

Then, the Old Fish and Fishmael learn a disaster is headed their way, as a giant Red Tide (a toxic mass of red algae) is headed toward their treasured Gulf Stream. What to do? Seek the wisdom of Atlantis, where the sage-spotted dolphins (descendants of the residents of the fabled sunken kingdom) reside.

The trip is a long one and, along the way, the Hemingway story gets repeated. A mother marlin and her young son dive to save one of her eggs from a viperfish, the mother is killed, and the Old Fish becomes a Good Samaritan and saves the egg and the adolescent marlin. The adolescent, Jotaro, later goes after a fisherman's baited hook, and the Old Fish saves him by beating him to it, and getting himself hooked. But will it end the way you think? And, if it does, will it mean what you think?

The book is full of puns (some subtle, some not, some groaners, some laugh-out-loud). Other lines are downright quotable ("To worry is to listen for the echo of a scream that has not come"). Watch for the sole, the hardheaded catfish and the electric eel. I chuckled numerous times, and I learned something from this book. It's only 140 pages, but it's packed with wonderful ideas. The 10 circles of life is a wonderful idea that could help many people change their lives for the better. I put it right up there with Jonathan Livingston Seagull and it might even be richer and deeper. It certainly will make you smile more!

With all the books I've read, this is my favorite, and I re-read it whenever I'm feeling down or stressed out.

by Chris McCallister
9 September 2006

Buy it from Amazon.com.