To Sea and Back: The Heroic Life of the Atlantic Salmon

Richard Hamblyn writes: ’To Sea and Back is a remarkable book, a lyrical zoography of the Atlantic salmon that weaves in and out of a wider historical narrative of ocean exploration, fisheries science and personal memoir. Admirers of Shelton’s previous book,The Longshoreman: A Life at the Water’s Edge (2004), will be familiar with the loose structure (as well as with – it must be said – a fair amount of recycled material), but the controlled meanderings that marked outThe Longshoreman as a new kind of nature writing range further afield in this second outing, in which the motifs of exile and homecoming are refracted through a series of autobiographical asides that evidently made a strong impression on whoever wrote the press release, since it gave the title asTo Sea and Back: The Heroic Life of the Atlantic Shelton, an insightful slip, given that much of the interest of the book derives from untangling the complex relationship between the author’s knowledge of the sea and the personal circumstances that first drew him to it.’

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