Brian Harvey

Sea Trial

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Sea Trial: Sailing After My Father is a non-fiction book about

sailing around Vancouver Island -- a challenging circumnavigation --

while trying to get to the bottom of a medical-legal case that changed

my family's life.  It's part adventure, part memoir, a simultaneous

telling of two great stories. It's published by ECW Press, and available

May 7, 2019.

Coming events

I'll give a talk about Sea Trial at the beautiful Vancouver Maritime

Museum, May 16 at 7:30 PM.

Interview with Gregor Craigie of "On the Island", CBC Radio, May 6

Early reviews of Sea Trial

"Harvey has serious skills, and his

riveting story is impossible to put

down." -- Cruising World

Excerpts from a longer review by

Theo Dombrowski, in BC Book Look

"With a sharp eye for telling detail,

and inventive language, Harvey is a

writer who knows how to fix on the

less to evoke the more — and,

simultaneously, to give a sense of

the inner life of stuff . . . Given the

unmistakeable personal stamp in

this book, we can be grateful that

our guide is so engaging. Here is a

voice that cares — and cares deeply. Yet only towards the intense

conclusion do the emotions become torrential. For the most part, the

voice is generally breezy, bright, even when it is intensely engaged.

Self-deprecating humour, lightness of touch, and an inclination to give

a wry account of his own (substantial) fears and uncertainties make

his a very easy voice to listen to, whether chatting about rocks and

reefs or lawyers and legalities."

"The emphasis on the dangers of the trip makes for gripping reading,

not least of all because, except for the very last few bits of the voyage,

the dangers come in so many different forms — and never cease. One

of the more blissful passages is illuminating: “…we surfed an

undulating sea of mercury that, when the sun was out, threw back a

dazzling reflection of towering white clouds and blue sky. The horizon,

at those moments became a wavering silver ribbon.” If the passage

had stopped there, all would be well. It doesn’t. Harvey can’t resist

adding, “…the motion was lulling and seductive — or would have been

had we not entered the stretch of coastline where there were exposed

rock pinnacles as much as five miles out sea. The chart looked as

though a waiter had leaned over my shoulder and murmured, ‘Some

ground pepper with that?’” The evocation of the sailing is beautiful

and the concluding bit is, typical of Harvey, playful and inventive, but

the undercurrent of anxiety never, ever, leaves."

"The other real purpose of the investigation, to discover the elder

Harvey’s character, is movingly achieved. At the beginning, Harvey

claims that “Trying to connect the dots between the handsome violin-

playing medical resident and the querulous old man with the haunted

eyes and the fly away hair didn’t enter my mind.” If forcing himself

(and it does take a lot of forcing in the end) to go through the

documents does achieve anything truly significant, it does that. It

connects the dots. “Mysteries” that had surrounded his father’s life

decisions are, in the end resolved. Perhaps the most overriding of

those — why his father never got over the malpractice incident, even

though it was settled out of court, turns out to be precisely because it

was settled out of court. As a result, the aging doctor, principled to a

fault, feisty, yet grimly humourous, never had the opportunity to

defend himself publicly."

"In solving this mystery, the son really exposes his own vulnerabilities

and compulsions. Though he doesn’t quite say so, Harvey and/or the

book’s persona, in writing the book, seems to be doing what his father

never had been able to do — go public. In this, the reader has a crucial

role to play: it is hard not to escape the sense that it matters, it matters

a lot, that each of us reading the book is part of an ultimate tribunal."