Perfect Storm

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Perfect Storm

By | May 2013
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Peanut butter and tuna fish; some things are not meant to be together. In his book, The Perfect Storm, Sebastian Junger tries to write both as a journalist and as the narrator of separate stories about a sword fishing boat, a three person sailboat, and U.S. Coast Guard Cutter stuck in the middle of colliding weather systems. While his skill in each style individually is exceptional, the way he switches between the two interrupts his flow and the contrasting styles do not fit together well. Junger combines styles as an attempt to broaden his audience and to keep the writer interested, but for me, he was unsuccessful. While he tries to appeal to the reader through the three forms of rhetoric, (pathos, logos, and ethos) his desire to also tell parts of the story as a narrator and to connect the reader to the characters did not blend well with other sections of the book.

Constantly throughout his book, Junger switches between telling the story factually as a journalist, and as a characterizing narrator, which destroys his flow. In the beginning of his book he utilizes characterization to connect the reader to the fishermen and townspeople. “She’s a tall blonde who inspires crushes in the teenaged sons of some of her friends,” describes Junger, “but there’s a certain no-nonsense air about her that has always kept Bobby on his toes” (7). The way Junger describes Christina, Bobby Shatford’s girlfriend, sounds as if he knew her at the time. This use of pathos makes Junger a much more effective and believable narrator.

It is only pages later, however, where Junger transitions into more clear-cut journalism. He starts to discuss the salary of fisherman and other factual information. “Sword boats are also called longliners because their mainline is up to forty miles long,” he informs the reader. “It’s baited at intervals and paid out and hauled back every day for ten days or twenty days.” Here he uses logos and attempts to keep the reader interested through his use of...