Little, Brown, Mar 2002, 23.95, 320 pp.
Under fifty years old, Orphan Point, Maine lobsterman, Lucas "Lucky" Lunt has major troubles caused by a weak heart already requiring medical attention. Between his medical bills and his inability to care for the heavy lobster traps by himself, Lucky owes a fortune. His wife Sarah seeing his weakness asserts her independence by selling glass sculptures. Their son is a bigger loser than Lucky while their daughter flees their abysmal home for college.
Lucky needs help and cannot obtain it from his immediate family. He hires Ronette Hannaford, a wife separated from a lobster buyer, to serve as his sternwoman. The unhappy seafaring duo makes love and Ronette becomes pregnant. Sarah leaves her cheating spouse and Lucky loses his fishing license after a dispute turns ugly. He moves in with Ronette and begins fish poaching before a final confrontation with a whale.
Rarely does a talent explode on the scene out of nowhere, but that is the case here as THE WOODEN NICKEL is a great character tale that will remind the audience of Moby Dick or The old Man and the Sea. The story line digs deep into the hard lifestyle of the Maine working class fishermen and women as they struggle to eke out a living in a world that has changed not often for the good. On the surface the lead protagonist seems shallow, but in actuality Lucky goes ocean deep as he cannot fathom what is happening to his world. This parable of modern life is so good that this reviewer plans to read William Carpenter's first novel KEEPER OF SHEEP.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner