ISBN-10 : 0988204649
ISBN-13 : 978-0988204645
Publisher : Jim Cain

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Read the review by James Keelaghan

From the January 2021 Winter Issue of Canada’s premier folk music magazine, Penguin Eggs.
I often draw inspiration from books -- I find stories or facts that can be woven into songs. My characters last for about five minutes. I have never thought of going in the opposite direction and using a song as inspiration for a longer work.
Jim Cain of Rochester, NY, decided to do just that. He’s taken Stan Rogers’s anthemic Mary Ellen Carter and used it as the inspiration for his sprawling novel of the same name. He creates a back story for the story song: why had the skipper been drinking? Why did the mate feel no pain? How did she get so close to Three Mile Rock anyway?
Along the way, we learn about Transport Canada safety regulations, a deep dive into salvage techniques, the finer points of feeding a crew at sea, and more. Cain has meticulously and exhaustively researched the specialties that touch on his subject matter and weaves them into his narrative for an—if you’ll forgive the pun—immersive experience.
Dyed-in-the-wool Rogers fans will get a kick out of the way Cain brings in other songs from Stan’s canon. Emmett Pierce, from Field Behind the Plow, shows up, as does a touching reference to the equally epic White Squall.
Peppered throughout the text are scannable QR codes, which lead you to videos, articles, illustrations, and websites that flesh out the experience and provide a soundtrack for your reading. At 500 or so pages, it will keep you occupied for a good chunk of the remainder of the pandemic.