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The Starboard Seaby Amber Dermont
Synopses & Reviews
“A rich, quietly artful novel that is bound for deep water, with questions of beauty, power and spiritual navigation as its main concerns. The title refers not to the right side of a boat but to the right course through life, and the immense difficulty of finding and following it.”--Janet Maslin, The New York Times
A powerful first novel about life and death, friendship and love, as one young man must navigate the depths of his emotions.
JASON PROSPER grew up in the elite world of Manhattan penthouses, Maine summer estates, old-boy prep schools, and exclusive sailing clubs. A smart, athletic teenager, Jason maintains a healthy, humorous disdain for the trappings of affluence, preferring to spend afternoons sailing with Cal, his best friend and boarding-school roommate. When Cal commits suicide during their junior year at Kensington Prep, Jason is devastated by the loss and transfers to Bellingham Academy. There, he meets Aidan, a fellow student with her own troubled past. They embark on a tender, awkward, deeply emotional relationship.
When a major hurricane hits the New England coast, the destruction it causes brings with it another upheaval in Jasons life, forcing him to make sense of a terrible secret that has been buried by the boys he considers his friends.
Set against the backdrop of the 1987 stock market collapse, The Starboard Sea is an examination of the abuses of class privilege, the mutability of sexual desire, the thrill and risk of competitive sailing, and the adult cost of teenage recklessness. It is a powerful and provocative novel about a young man finding his moral center, trying to forgive himself, and accepting the gift of love.
"An anemic coming-of-age story about a sexually confused teenager learning to negotiate a Reagan-era world of material excess and unchecked freedoms sums up Dermont's debut novel. Reeling from the suicide of Cal, his sailing partner and first love, Jason Prosper is sent to Bellingham, a laissez-faire East Coast boarding school that caters to entitled delinquents. There, he befriends Aidan, an ethereal social misfit and daughter of a Hollywood ingÃ©nue, who helps him come to terms with Cal's death. However, Jason also takes up with a fraternity of pranksters, whose menacing antics are ignored by the school's money-grubbing administration. After Aidan dies mysteriously during a hurricane, Jason must face the truth about his new friends and school. Though Dermont is a competent storyteller, the novel often feels like little more than a series of anecdotes about privilege and impunity, with Jason's search for justice relegated to an extracurricular event taking place between regattas and drug-fueled blowouts. Insights are limited by Dermont's unconditional sympathy for even the cruelest characters, amounting to a reprieve for the poor little rich kids, whose spiritual loneliness redeems their offenses, no matter how grave. Agent: Inkwell Management." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
About the Author
AMBER DERMONT received her MFA in fiction from the University of Iowa Writers Workshop. Her short stories have appeared in numerous literary magazines and anthologies, including Dave Eggerss Best American Nonrequired Reading 2005, Francis Ford Coppola's Zoetrope: All-Story, and Jane Smileys Best New American Voices 2006. A graduate of Vassar College, she received her Ph.D. in creative writing and literature from the University of Houston. She currently serves as an associate professor of English and creative writing at Agnes Scott College in Decatur, Georgia and is also the author of the story collection Damage Control.
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