Synopses & Reviews
By all accounts, Henry Seine should have packed it in long ago, certainly before he started scanning marine distress channels for fun. But sixteen-hour days spent hauling heavy cargo aboard tugs and icebreakers along the frozen arctic offshore (not to mention smoking copious amounts of Cannabis indica) can warp a mans sense of reality. Desperate for real human contact, he tunes the sideband radio to 2182 kHz (twenty-one eighty-two kilohertz), the international distress channel, in the vague hope of finding someone he can save.
Soon, though, even the paycheck that fattens his wallet each season isnt enough to fix his interest. Seine journeys south, but weathers a capsizing that leaves his fellow crewmen dead. Unable to break from his old habits, and haunted by the ghosts of dead shipmates, he flies north for another season. One day, idly monitoring 2182, Seine catches a fading distress call from somewhere out in the circumpolar twilight. A scientist named Louis Moneymaker is trapped alone on an ice floe that threatens to melt beneath his feet. Cobbling together a motley rescue team–the frostbitten Wolf, a six-foot-eight Russian known as Big Man, a tattooed Eskimo nicknamed the Buff, and an intrepid, dark-eyed sailor named Julia–Seine travels farther north than hes ever gone, determined to save Moneymaker and exorcise his demons in one grand sweep.
2182 kHz combines the white-knuckle adventure of The Perfect Storm with the dark humor and deadpan wit of Chuck Palahniuk to create an absorbing tale of search-and-rescue. David Masiel introduces us to a compelling antihero who is only one step away from either destruction or salvation.
From the Hardcover edition.
"2182 kHz manages the considerable trick of summoning the ghosts of Conrad and Heller and doing them both proud. Raunchily funny and deadly serious, David Masiel charts the profound and the ludicrous and reveals them to be neighboring territories." Scott Phillips, author of The Ice Harvest
"Im a devoted reader of boat sagas, sea adventures, and accounts of solo sailings and sinkings and feats of solo crossing. 2182 kHz is in the tradition of the greatest of them: laconic, gripping, thoughtful, and tough. A wonderful book." Diane Johnson, author of Le Mariage and Le Divorce
Taking its name from the marine distress channel, 2182 Kilohertz tells the story of Henry Seine, a pot-smoking merchant sailor stationed in the Alaskan arctic who is slowly losing his grip on reality. When he picks up an SOS from a scientist stranded on a melting iceberg, Seine decides to tempt fate. Cobbling together a motley search-and-rescue crew, Seine sets out to find the lost scientist and exorcise his demons in one grand sweep. A rousing, madcap adventure story, told with deadpan humor, 2182 Kilohertz is a stellar fiction debut.
About the Author
David Masiel was born in Oakland, California, and grew up in Richmond, where he used to sit at an old Formica table and listen to his grandfathers stories of rogues, riverboats, sailors, and the sea. He has worked as a golf instructor, a maintenance man, an English teacher, and an oilfield laborer. For ten years he worked as a merchant seaman on oceangoing tugboats and icebreakers from Seattle to Barter Island, Alaska. During that time he earned an M.A. in creative writing from the University of California at Davis. He now lives in Davis, California, with his wife and their two children.
Reading Group Guide
1. The strange-sounding title of the novel (twenty-one eighty-two kilohertz
) refers to the international marine distress channel, the broadcast frequency seamen use to relay messages in a nautical emergency. Discuss the theme of distress in the novel. How does 2182 kilohertz come into play? What might this channel symbolize, especially for a character like Seine? Is Seine a character who is used to making distress calls himself?
2. One of the broadest themes of 2182 Kilohertz is mans struggle with an overpowering–and unforgiving–nature. How do the characters in the novel attempt to subdue nature? To what extent are they successful? To what extent do they fail?
3. Describe Henry Seine, the novels protagonist. What problems is he facing? What contradictions, if any, do you detect in him? What are his priorities? Do these priorities seem reasonable to you? Consider the different meanings of his name. How do you interpret it?
4. 2182 Kilohertz is set almost entirely in the arctic circle. What attracts men to this harsh environment? What does the arctic represent for them? How do the characters in the novel negotiate its grueling climate? Alternately, describe what “the south” (eg. Seattle) represents for them, especially for Seine.
5. Critics have praised David Masiels colorful cast of minor characters. Which characters did you find most compelling? Would you imagine men who work in the arctic to behave as these characters do?
6. Seafaring life is rife with superstitions and omens. Which superstitions does the novel make reference to? Do you think that, given the unforgiving nature of the ocean, these characters have a right to be superstitious? Consider Seines superstitions, especially his recurring vision of ghosts. What might be the source of these specters? Would you say there is a point in the novel when he surmounts these ghosts? When?
7. One of Seines preoccupations at the novels beginning has to do with the physical waste that the barge camp produces. Discuss the theme of pollution in the novel. What gets polluted? Who does the polluting? Who is responsible for cleaning it up? Do you think this is an accurate snapshot of what life is like aboard an oil rig? What ought to be the ethics of preventing pollution in such a situation?
8. Discuss Seines relationship with women. How does the time he spends up north warp his ability to relate to women, especially to Julia Lew? To what extent does he have a similar problem relating to his soon-to-be-ex-wife, Heather, or the the prostitute he meets in Seattle? Does his attitude towards women change over the course of the novel? If so, when?