Birlinn deserve credit for republishing a growing number of out-of-print Scottish books, and this title has been on many peoples 'wants' lists for decades. Although sometimes described as a 'classic', copies of the original edition have long been too scarce and expensive for the book to become as well-known as it should be. It has been sought-after by buyers in several different markets - including shark enthusiasts, lovers of islands and the west coast of Scotland, and Gavin Maxwell fans - driving the price for secondhand copies in decent condition up to as much as £300 or even more. Now, thanks to Birlinn, the book is available and affordable at last, the cover of the paperback reprint even reproducing the eye-catching artwork from the original 1960 dust-jacket. Many readers will buy this book because of the connection with Gavin Maxwell, but Geddes' own life story and his account of a long-past industry is interesting enough for the book to find a readership on its own merits.
I had the honour of reading this book twenty five years ago and am delighted to see it back in print. I was given a copy to read by Tex Geddes himself while holidaying on the island of Soay, where he and his wife, Jeanne and all their family were most welcoming to me and my three children. I had the privilege to read Hebridean Sharker in the place it was set. Tex was a wonderful writer and his book transports the reader to the dangers and rigours of life at the time the book was set. As a man he had a wealth of experience and fabulous memories, some of which he shared with me over a few evenings and a dram or two! His writing is real and descriptive and I would recommend it to readers.
I read this book a long time ago (borrowed from my public library) and waited for the reprint ever since. Like others I found the secondhand price prohibitive. I love the story of lives lived in a harsh environment, in a different era and to completely different rules (killing Basking Sharks for a living? Heaven forbid). What comes across is the courage and determination of individuals to continue their lives in an uncompromising environment a million miles away from our comfy modern values and metrocentric living. Geddes is a story teller and recorder of post war efforts of economic and social continuity in the communities of the west coast of Scotland. His personal answer to the pre-war depopulation of the isles was to populate one with his family - a precursor to the modern fad for 'the simple life'? Far from it. Read alongside Gavin Maxwells' work Geddes injects a vein of realism into the punishing business of shark hunting and existing at a time when it still seemed possible that a man could live the life of his choice. I commend this book to armchair adventurers, nostalgics, lovers of Western Scotland and anyone who really wants to escape.
My mum used to live on the island of soay in the early 90s and tex was always around oozing charisma. I got my copy from mystic seaport whaling museum in Connecticut USA by Mail Order In mint condition that was way back in the days before widespread Internet usage. The old whaling station is still there on soay - a very evocative place. Every thing in the book is most likely true. Grab yourself a copy and seep back to long gone days....
If you have read Gavin Maxwells Harpoon At 'aventure - think I have the title right - you must also read this. Tex was Gavin's right hand man. It is a good easy read and takes one back to a time not long ago when green and environmental concerns were not as prominent as now. It shows a West Highland community that worked in harmony without much outside interference.
Despite the dated cover, Tex Geddes writing style makes 'Hebridean Sharker' most accesible, and his yarns feel very current. As someone who is very interested in all things West Coast and all things marine, this was a no brainer for me, though I was pleased to find it wasnt all about catching the big fish. Well worth a read.
As an old "Whaler" myself I thoroughly enjoyed the read. I see the basking shark every day when I am out fishing swimming with their mouths wide open when looking for food. They are extremely friendly. I would recommend this book.