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A man witnesses a tragic accident
that calls his own life into question. A
young woman meets her high school
sweetheart after many years and seeks
to make sense of the separate paths
they’ve taken. A soldier home from Iraq
tries to rebuild his life in a remote Alaskan
These are fishing stories, told as
such stories are meant to be: simple,
often coarse, and tinged with the elemental
beauty of the sea. They reflect
rugged lives lived on the edge of the
ocean’s borders, where grief and grace
ride the same waves. Rosemary McGuire, a fisherman herself, captures the
essential humanity at the heart of each
tale. No one comes through unscathed,
but all retain a sense of hope and belief
in earthly miracles, however humble.
A dazzling debut, The Creatures at
the Absolute Bottom of the Sea will leave
readers with a sense of the fragility and
beauty inherent in eroded lives spent in
proximity to danger.
Emotional snapshots of life in coastal Alaska’s fishing communities form the focus of Rosemary McGuire’s short-story compilation, The Creatures at the Absolute Bottom of the Sea. The stories juxtapose the rugged and unforgiving landscape of rocky coasts and tumultuous waters with the characters’ inner lives of love and loss. . . . McGuire herself has more than a decade of experience in the fishing industry, and this shows in the authenticity of her voice. Her characters are not scholarly or verbose but working class. They feel deeply, and directly, and she writes them with appropriate bluntness and candor.
Make way for a terrific new voice
from Alaska! McGuire’s short
fictions are as authentic as they
come—drawn from a life steeped in
rural Alaska and commercial fishing,
deeply imagined. Her language
is luminous, and her characters—
rough, innocent, tragic, fully
former Alaska writer laureate
and author of The Man Who
Swam with Beavers
The Creatures at the Absolutely Bottom of the Sea is well worth seeking out. The language is beautiful, the tone is haunting, none of the stories overstay their welcome, and its melancholy but passionate love of the sea is liable to linger long after you put it down.
—The Daily News-Miner
It’s dark work for certain, but all of it is finely crafted by McGuire’s writing. . . .In rendering the sea an inanimate entity she lends it character. By being nobody, it becomes somebody. Perfectly tuned paragraphs like this one are found throughout the book. Rarely is Alaska’s essential nature so well captured, and she does it without superlatives or clichés.
—David A. James, Alaska Dispatch News
Rosemary McGuire has been working as a commercial fisherman for fourteen years. She
has worked in Antarctica and in field camps across Alaska and has traveled most of Alaska’s
river systems by canoe.
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