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The Sea on Fire Paperback – 15 Mar 2012

33 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Picador (15 Mar. 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1447202406
  • ISBN-13: 978-1447202400
  • Product Dimensions: 13.5 x 2.4 x 21.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,197,801 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

`A strong storyline has its climax back in London - like most of the book's best scenes it's underwater; in the Thames.' --Daily Mail

`Cunnell maps new noir territory in an incandescent underwater world, where shipwrecks and luminous sharks are described as precisely as the madness and weakness in the hearts of men, the slipperiness of relationships and identity, with a quest to find what really lies beneath.' --The Guardian

`What I particularly appreciated was that the diving sequences, from the Red Sea to Stoney Cove, fitted seamlessly into the action ... Pack it for your next trip.'
--Diver Magazine

'You can really tell Howard has taught diving - this book is the first I've found with exciting and accurate descriptions of diving. Overall, it reminded me a little of The Beach. A good exciting noir.' --Good Reads

'Howard Cunnell wisely foregoes the diving-as-action approach and presents the emotion and sensation of diving that we feel through the main character, Kim...Cunnell presents diving as an emotional metaphor for the way Kim feels about his life. Diving is his escape. From poverty, tyrants, responsibility, and yes, even his wife. His description of diving is spot on, from the feeling when you first hit the water, to the excitement of sighting sharks.'
--The Diving Blog

About the Author

Howard Cunnell has a Ph.D. from the University of London, and has been a Leverhulme Fellow at the University of Sussex. He is the editor of Jack Kerouac’s On the Road: The Original Scroll, which the New York Times described as ‘the living version for our time’. A former professional scuba diving instructor, he lives in London.


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Customer Reviews

3.1 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By D. Elliott TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 27 April 2012
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
The subject of `The Sea On Fire' may be diving but the book is shallow. Its plot is flimsy and implausible with illogical behaviour by stereotyped characters who largely appear as thoroughly objectionable. It is narrated in the first person with lots of turgid dialogue by the main protagonist Kim (diver) who is irresponsible at best but may more accurately be described as a hooligan or even hoodlum. Garland (his buddy) is more attractive with an obsession for safeguarding sea life, coral reefs etc. yet is also capable of extreme actions. Other characters manage to exhibit a whole range of offensive features from mere foul language and bullying through drink, drugs and sex to include racism and snuff movies!

After an enlightening and uplifting portrayal of Kim's family life author Howard Cunnell divides his book into 3 main parts and the story degenerates. There is some merit in the first section via elegantly environmental and conservation messages plus scientific insights to the effects of diving on the mind as well the body, but Kim impulsively leaves family behind. The second part includes detailed technical information on diving operations and equipment and there are some delightful evocative descriptions of underwater scenarios and sequences, but these are outweighed by coarseness and injudicious conduct. The final part is short and shocking, and leaves readers wondering - the final sentence is a question to Kim from his daughter - "what have you been thinking about all this time?"
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Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This novel tells the story of Kim, a professional scuba diver and married father of three who yearns for the freedom of diving in exotic foreign climes. He accepts the offer of three weeks work on a dive boat in the Red Sea along with his best friend. However once on the boat things quickly get out of hand with disastrous consequences - consequences that will go further than Kim expects.

Howard Cunnell uses his own experience as a professional diver to bring great authenticity to his novel (sometimes a little too much authenticity: for example the inclusion of the brand name of almost every piece of dive kit mentioned made me wonder if he was being sponsored by the manufacturers!). There is enough explanation of basic diving procedures to keep the book accessible to non-divers. He brings the Red Sea to life vividly, depicting the beauty and freedom of diving so well that we can understand Kim's reluctance to commit to a life on land. The story is a little slow to start but soon picks up the pace and keeps the reader's attention right to its dramatic end. It is quite dark in tone with depictions of drug taking and violence that may put some readers off.

The main difficulty I had with with the book is that I found it hard to sympathise with Kim, who despite his philosophical musings and past troubles ultimately came across as a selfish man who was intelligent enough to know better. I also found it hard to believe that a diver of his experience would behave as he did when working. However Kim does acknowledge his errors and makes some attempts to redeem himself as the story goes on.

I didn't feel that this book was the literary masterpiece it seemed to be trying to present itself as but it is a competent and enjoyable thriller with an original setting. I think divers will definitely enjoy it and non-divers should find it entertaining too.
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Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
- almost a 4*!! ...Told by Kim - the book's narrator, this could have been a very thrilling book. While not wanting to denigrate Howard Cunnell, perhaps using narration was not the best way of telling the tale. Kim and his old friend Garland had enjoyed a life of young escapism, acting as dive guides and enjoying the "gap" lifestyle.

Now older, wiser Kim is married and settled down with a large family. Garland, older but not it seems wiser,s still playing the game and asks his old pal Kim to join him for one last adventure. (I have to disagree with one reviewer who said that this is aimed at a male audience, perhaps he has never read some of the more explicit, rather unsavoury "chic-lit"! It is as men are, conversations between men exclusing women are not the same as in female company. They tend to let loose and be "themselves" in a group - as a mother of two adult sons who behave modestly in front of any woman present, I would not like to be a fly on the wall when they get together with male counterparts.) Teddy, the owner of the dive boat, is one of the story's characters and yes he is foul mouthesd and rather unpleasant, but as everyone knows, "there is always one" and Teddy's character shows up the milder KIm and the worldwise Garland more in situ, all lonked on a dive boat on the Red Sea. There is a dangerous party of would be divers on board which leads to group drug taking, drinking and all that a mixed group in a confined area entails. Kim is there because he was attracted by the money, but his love for the sea and dives is overwhelming and comes over in a very descriptive way that I thoroughly enjoyed.
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