Words

Before the Wind

A family at sea

Get It

More:

HOW: Your local libraries have copies of Before the Wind in multiple formats: book, audiobook CD, eBook, and downloadable audiobook, so visit http://www.wcls.org to place a hold on one/.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Several years ago, Whatcom READS featured Jim Lynch’s excellent novel Border Songs, about a dutiful, extremely tall, bird-loving rookie Border Patrol officer and his observations of life along the 49th parallel between the United States and Canada. 

Since then, he has written several fine books. Before the Wind continues Lynch’s tradition of finding the humanity in a lovable cast of eccentric characters and setting them in the glorious scenery of coastal Washington state.

As its title implies, Before the Wind is about sailing—and the mixed bag of racers, dreamers, salts and scalawags who are obsessed with sailboats and the sea.

The members of the Johannssen family tick all those boxes. There’s Bobo Johannssen Senior, aka Grumps, designer of fast, beautiful sailboats known as Johos. His son, Bobo Junior, is relentlessly competitive, a teller of tales who doesn’t hesitate to cheat if it will give him an edge. Junior’s eldest son Bernard is an excellent sailor with questionable morality, who may or may not be mixed up in some shady dealings. Junior’s youngest child, Ruby, has an almost mystical connection to the wind and no desire to use it to win sailing races. And Josh is the middle child, the only one to make boatbuilding his vocation. 

The narrative is told from 31-year-old Josh’s point of view, as he ekes out his living in a rundown marina, hoping to find love and missing the closeness of his estranged siblings.

Josh’s description of the Sunrise Marina will resonate with anyone who’s spent time near the water, and will elicit a chuckle even with resolute landlubbers: “These docks were a magnet for every bad idea and flawed design on water…yet somebody somewhere, amazingly, kept paying moorage out of guilt, ignorance, or senility.”

His take on his live-aboard neighbors is equally humorous and realistic—the clueless couple with zero sailing experience plotting a circumnavigation; the broke romantic, crazy as a loon, who wants to install a grand piano in his moldy, dilapidated yacht; the beer-guzzling ne’er-do-well who can’t hold down a job but will help a buddy in a pinch.

But Josh’s real love is his family, with whom he spent every Sunday of his childhood, in boats rather than in church. Specifically, he misses Ruby, his gifted sister, for whom sailing comes as naturally as breathing. It all stems back to a fateful race, when, despite a huge lead, Ruby threw her chances of going to the Olympics by deliberately veering off the course.

Shortly thereafter, Ruby departed for the Peace Corps in Africa, Bernard took off for the South Pacific, and Josh’s family splintered. When Ruby calls and suggests they reunite for one last attempt at the Swiftsure Race, Josh jumps at the chance, with unforgettable results.

This is Lynch’s love story to sailing and the zany brotherhood of sailors. As with his first novel The Highest Tide, there’s an element of the supernatural afloat to keep things interesting and unexpected. 

Christine Perkins is the executive director of the Whatcom County Library System (WCLS). WCLS is celebrating its 75th year of sharing stories with the rural parts of Whatcom County. If you live outside the city limits of Bellingham, you can apply for a WCLS library card at http://www.wcls.org/get-a-card

More Words...
Prescriptions in Prose
Take Daily as Needed

When readers are first introduced to Maeve Beaufort, her 14-month-old daughter Noelle is being rushed to the emergency room in an ambulance after the pine nuts in the pesto she was served for dinner caused her face to swell “like rapidly rising dough.”

By the end of Take Daily as Needed:…

more »
Feminist Solidarity
From sabotage to support

What do feminist icon Gloria Steinem and Western Washington University adjunct professor Dr. Joy Wiggins have in common?

A whole lot. For starters, they’re both interested in heady topics such as the origins of sex and race caste systems, how gender roles play an important part of…

more »
Pilgrimages
Hoofing through history

I’ve been reading a lot of books about walking lately, rambling through pages that recount long saunters across lands familiar and foreign. The curriculum is reminding me that the simple act of placing one foot in front of another is the best way to authentically experience a place, and…

more »
Events
Today
Whatcom Food Network's Fall Forum

9:00am|Pioneer Pavilion Community Center

Back to the Books

12:00pm|Whatcom Museum's Old City Hall

Bellingham at Home Informational Meeting

3:00pm|Bellingham Senior Activity Center

My Parents and Me Painting Classes

3:00pm|Museum of Northwest Art

Classic Italian Dinner

6:30pm|Cordata Community Food Co-op

Boldly Went Live Outdoor Adventure Storytelling Show

6:30pm|Boundary Bay Brewery

Balkan Folk Dancers

7:00pm|Fairhaven Library

Hot Vengeance

7:00pm|Village Books

Tartuffe

7:00pm|Bellingham High School

An Evening with Conrad Anker

7:00pm|Mount Baker Theatre

Pray the Gay Away

7:30pm|Lincoln Theatre

The Norman Conquests

7:30pm|Sylvia Center for the Arts

Good, Bad, Ugly

7:30pm|Upfront Theatre

Jansen Jazz Band

7:30pm|Jansen Art Center

Interwoven Lives

7:30pm|Village Books

Tomorrow
Tartuffe

7:00pm|Bellingham High School

Pray the Gay Away

7:30pm|Lincoln Theatre

The Norman Conquests

7:30pm|Sylvia Center for the Arts

Emergency winter housing for the homeless

8:30am

Wild Things

9:30am|Cornwall Park

Rexville Grange Holiday Art Show

10:00am|Rexville Grange

Books and Bites

1:00pm|Blaine Library

Curator's Tour

1:30pm|Whatcom Museum's Lightcatcher Building

Holiday Makers Market

4:00pm|Ciao Thyme Commons

Peace Builder Awards Gala

5:00pm|Settlemyer Hall

Hamster Ball

5:30pm|Bellingham Cruise Terminal

Family Story Night

6:00pm|Fairhaven Library

Gratitude Stew

6:00pm|Peter James Studio

Vaudevillingham

7:00pm|Cirque Lab

Book Launch and Poetry Reading

7:00pm|Old Parish Hall

Butterflies and Trios

7:30pm|Upfront Theatre

I Knew Her As Arachne

7:30pm|DUG Theater

Lone Piñon

7:30pm|Lincoln Theatre

Blush Punch with Bellingham Repertory Dance

8:00pm|Firehouse Arts and Events Center

Saturday
Tartuffe

7:00pm|Bellingham High School

Pray the Gay Away

7:30pm|Lincoln Theatre

The Norman Conquests

7:30pm|Sylvia Center for the Arts

Rexville Grange Holiday Art Show

10:00am|Rexville Grange

Butterflies and Trios

7:30pm|Upfront Theatre

I Knew Her As Arachne

7:30pm|DUG Theater

Blush Punch with Bellingham Repertory Dance

8:00pm|Firehouse Arts and Events Center

CapRun

8:00am|Thrive Community Fitness

Ferndale Breakfast

8:00am|Ferndale Senior Center

Community Pancake Breakfast

8:00am|Blaine Senior Center

Salmon Sites

9:00am

Bellingham Farmers Market

10:00am|Depot Market Square

Stuff the Trunk for Meals on Wheels

10:00am|Haggen stores

Holiday Craft Fair

10:00am|Sudden Valley Dance Barn

Pull over for Meals on Wheels

10:00am

Veteran Benefits

10:00am|Lynden Library

Birding for Kids

2:30pm

A Home on the South Fork

3:00pm|Deming Library

Read and Share with Leif Whittaker

3:00pm|Everson Library

Artist Talk with Marc Wenet

4:00pm|i.e. gallery

Think Black

4:00pm|Village Books

Is, Is not

7:00pm|Village Books

Blue Abode Comedy Showcase

7:00pm|Blue Abode Bar

Elvis Meets Whitney

7:00pm|Mount Baker Theatre

Pearl Django

7:00pm|Walton Theatre

Lessons of the Japanese American Exclusion

7:30pm|Lummi Island Library

Salsa Night

9:00pm|Cafe Rumba

see our complete calendar »