Titanic Tangent or Something Like Ourselves a Book Review


Nov 12, 2000
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Molony’s latest is a novella set aboard the Californian describing events on the night of April 14th, 1912. What actually happened on the Californian that night? What did the crew see? How well did they comprehend what they were seeing? Why did they respond the way they did? Unlike the modern reader, the crew had no access to the rest of the story to aid them in understanding what was happening. This approach makes for an interesting exercise in perspective that, to my knowledge, has not been attempted before. It makes for a thought provoking new angle on how we might want to interpret the Californian’s role.

From the posts on various message boards, it is obvious that a lot of people have given considerable thought to what the deck officers on the Californian could have done , or should have done, the night Titanic was sinking. Most of that reaction is based on 20/20 hindsight. But have you ever tried to step back in time and put yourself in the shoes of the crew of the Californian and look at the experience from their point of view, while the actual events were occurring?

In this short fictional recreation, Molony attempts to do just that. Play out one possible sequence of events as they might have occurred. Although it is a work of fiction, the author based the crew’s conversations and actions on the testimony they gave at the inquiries, so the story is grounded in fact (or perhaps more accurately, it is grounded in the facts as represented by the men of the Californian). Where there are gaps in the testimony, the author fills in with his own imaginative speculation so that a coherent story line can be maintained.

The narrative is told through the viewpoints of four men over the course of the night. The ship’s captain, Stanley Lord begins the narrative at 10:15 p.m. Herbert Stone, the 1st mate, takes up the story at 12:10 in the morning when he comes on duty. The apprentice, James Gibson continues the account through the early morning hours of April 15th. George Stewart, the Californian’s Chief Officer, wraps up the night when he comes on duty at four in the morning and begins to wake the ship up for the day.

As with any account regarding the Californian, the writer’s stance on the issue is important to understanding their intentions. Molony is a well known, vocal supporter of Captain Lord. Not only does he believe the crew of the Californian were innocent of the charge that they failed to come to Titanic’s aid, he ardently believes that Lord was completely blameless. It should come as a surprise to no-one, then, that this novella treats Lord in a favorable light. Some readers will agree completely with that interpretation and others will likely have a strong negative reaction, depending on their own personal views on the subject.

This book succeeds because it allows you to observe that night without, as much as is possible, all the historical perspective to color your viewpoint.

If you would like to get a copy and see for yourself, complete ordering instructions are available on the Titanic Book Site.com Book Store Page:

titanicbooksite.com

click on the Fiction link, then scroll down to Molony's entry.

all the best, Michael (TheManInBlack) T
 

Inger Sheil

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Dec 3, 2000
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Molony is known for his exquisite prose and for the remarkable depth of his research. Having read his superb non-fictional treatments of the subject in both full length books and articles as well as the lighter, comedic touch of 'A Garbled Titantic', I've often wondered how he would tackle a serious fictional dramatisation of the events surrounding the sinking.

The answer, in the form of this novella, is 'brilliantly'. Molony manages an elegant, almost lyrical style without introducing any alienating of the abstract or stylised. While I fit more into the 'anti' than the 'pro' camp, this reconstruction of events is a highly plausible version of what might have happened. Nor is it a simplistic rendering of individuals and events - no caricatures or cut-outs here, these are fully fleshed, human group of men, utterly believable in thought and action. And while certainly 'pro-Lord', it hardly lets the Californian or her officers off the hook. There are subtle and fascinating shadings here.

Having read this, I'm very keen to see the author tackle a full-scale novel set on the Titanic itself, or perhaps even a collection of three or four novellas of similar lenght.

Highly recommended.
 
Jan 8, 2001
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Another Titanic Book? Man, this Titanic habit of mine is going to send me to the poor house sooner than later =-)

Good day all!

Michael.
 
Dec 2, 2000
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Me too Mike, although I'll be looking for quality rather then quantity. Maloney's work from all that I've seen of it falls into the latter catagory. Looks like I'll have to give TMiB's bookstore a phone call tomorrow.
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Dec 8, 2000
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quote:

...although I'll be looking for quality rather then quantity. Maloney's work from all that I've seen of it falls into the latter catagory. ...
Uh, Mike S... would you care to rephrase that? Unless it's that book by that appalling Seamus Maloney that people keep posting about. Ugh.

Thanks for the info, Mike T - another one of Senan Molony's to add to the list! Sounds an interesting read.​
 

Inger Sheil

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Dec 3, 2000
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Lol! Seamus O'Maloney is impersonating as Senan Molony again
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(Just stirring, Mike).

Am hearing whispers of another work lurking on the horizon, coming out of Dublin that sounds v. intriguing...looming dead ahead on a dark but clear night, one might say...
 
Nov 12, 2000
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Inger, you are absolutely right. Senan has already finished yet another Titanic book. the man is a writing machine! you get both quantity and quality for your buck. his new book should be out within a few weeks, and all I will say is to repeat a famous Flying Circus quote (in your best faux-British accent). "And Now for Something Completely Different!"

all the best, Michael (TheManInBlack) T
 
Mar 3, 1998
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You know, a plain brown envelope, postmarked Dublin and marked only with the initials "S&B", showed up on my doorstep the other day. I waited for the Bomb Squad to arrive before I attempted to open the envelope, but they never showed. Based on what you said here, I guess it might be safe for me to peek inside that envelope.

Parks
 
Dec 2, 2000
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Oooops in the mispelling. Mea culpa, mea culpa, mae maxima culpa and all that. I just put in my order. Somehow, TMiB wasn't surprised to hear from me either. From what I've seen so far, this will be a good year for quality work!
 
Dec 8, 2000
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Oh well, while getting a chuckle from Mike S's fervent pronunciations as to Mr Molony's prolific rather than proficient pen, er keyboard, it seems I have been pre-empted. I note that the information from Inger makes it plain that Mr Molony can deliver on both quality *and* quantity. Crikey, but could someone please chain him up or at least confiscate his keyboard - I'm now three books behind!

ps Parks, if local suspicious packages squad is unable to assist, please forward aforementioned brown envelope through to me at my new secure reading facility in the remote safety of the Nullabor. You can rely on me to vet every page and I promise not to leave too many butternut snap crumbs behind.
 

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