American Literature of the Sea and Great Lakes

THE PERFECT STORM (1997). A work of creative nonfiction by Sebastian Junger (1962- ) subtitled A True Story of Men against the Sea, The Perfect Storm recounts the 1991 October storm off the coast of Nova Scotia where natural forces combined to create what meterologists termed “the perfect storm” because its conditions could not possibly have been worse.

Junger focuses on the six doomed crew members of the Andrea Gail: Bobby Shatford, Alfred Pierre, David Sullivan, Michael “Bugsy” Moran, Dale Murphy, and Captain Billy Tyne. The Andrea Gail, out of Gloucester,* Massachusetts, is a swordfishing boat, also called a longliner, and she is set to make one more fishing trip for the season, putting out in late September. Junger explores the personal moments of the crew before the ill-fated voyage and interweaves information throughout the narration, about fishing the Grand Banks, the men’s personal lives, other great storms, Moby-Dick* (1851), and the technical aspects of the storm itself. Junger also recounts successful rescue operations for the crew of the Satori, another vessel that is a victim of the storm, as well as stories of other rescue attempts. Although The Perfect Storm is nonfiction, the narrative skill of Junger and his tremendous description of the Atlantic Ocean in the throes of a gigantic storm induce a novelistic tone. A film version was released in 2000. [See also GLOUCESTER; SHIPWRECK LITERATURE]

Frank Rotsaert