Thursday, December 29, 2011
REVIEW: Escaping Reality Without Really Trying
Title: Escaping from Reality Without Really Trying
Author: Robert Jacoby
Price: $17.95 (paperback) $9.99 (Kindle)
Publisher: Cloud Books
Point of Sale: Amazon
Reviewed by: Chris Gerrib
As an ex-Navy man, when Robert Jacoby queried POD People about his book, Escaping Reality Without Really Trying, subtitled “40 Years of High Seas Travels and Lowbrow Tales,” I had to request it for review. The book proved to be an interesting read.
The book is the story of “Ronnie,” a 40-year veteran of the US Merchant Marine. It’s written in an extremely conversational tone, as if Ronnie is sitting across the bar from you (if you know Ronnie, this would have to be at a bar, bordello or at least with a bottle in hand) telling you all his old sea stories.
I have to say, Ronnie either has an encyclopedic memory or some kind of log book, because he remembers every ship and every captain he served under. I also have to tell you that Ronnie considers his true occupation as drinking, screwing hookers as a second job, and working on a ship as a hobby. All of this does not make for a tale to be read at your local Sunday School picnic. But then sailors are rarely seen at Sunday School, so it all works out in the end.
As a work of literature, Escaping Reality is somewhat unique. There is no plot, merely a long string of anecdotes of Ronnie and his various escapades. Most of the anecdotes are interesting, including his two weeks as a stowaway on a British merchant ship, sailing into Cambodia while we were bombing it during the Vietnam War, and more shipboard and pier side shenanigans then one can shake a stick at.
I personally found the exhaustive length of the book, well, a bit exhausting. At 526 pages, this is not a quick read. In my personal case, having been to sea as a working mariner myself, I wasn’t terribly shocked or surprised by Ronnie’s exploits. Had I been writing Escaping Reality, I would have made a tighter work. But that’s me, speaking from having done a few of the things Ronnie’s done. If you haven’t been to sea (and no, riding a Carnival Fun Ship does not count) your mileage will vary. If you are interesting in learning what life in the Merchant Marine is really like, or just want to escape your cubicle, then I can highly recommend Escaping Reality.