Next-in-Reading

Next-in-Reading #16: Sailor Twain or the Mermaid of the Hudson

Next In ReadingTitle: Sailor Twain or the Mermaid of the Hudson
Author: Mark Siegel
Year: 2012
Publisher: First Second Books

“He paid me little mind, and was usually poring over some of his brother’s arcane books and journals. I thought he, too, was going mad.”

One of the gems we found in Kino's bargain shelves.
One of the gems we found in Kino’s bargain shelves.

Approached by the enigmatic Miss Camomile, Elijah Twain, ex-Captain of the Lorelei, a ship on the Hudson, recounts his experiences on the ship and with Lafayette, the ship’s owner. As he tells his story, he speaks of life on the ship, and how his life changed as he is entranced by a mermaid he rescued from the Hudson.

Character(s)

Elijah Twain, Split Soul

Throughout the novel, Twain’s quarters seemed to be parallel with his character as the story progressed.

Keeping up appearances as a stable man walking the straight and narrow, he was very much like the close door of his quarters – a clean door which served as a barrier to pasts and troubles unknown to the public eye.

After the introduction to the mermaid, however, both Twain’s character and room started to unravel. Twain became more secretive, and more disturbed by his past despite his writer’s block being gone. At the same time, the mermaid’s presence in his room made the place grow mold and mildew, similar to that of his character – a stable front that was slowly crumbling and becoming dependent on the inside, until he was, eventually, torn between who he was and who he came to be.

As an aside, Twain is also kind and loyal, he stays true to his wheelchair-bound wife, Pearl, and the ship that Jacques-Henri, the original owner, used to own before his disappearance. It can be said that he is loyal to his wife to the point where while entranced by the mermaid, he insists that she does not sing her song so that he can go back to his wife. His love and guilt for not being with his wife as much as he should also played a part in not breaking the seal of the mermaid towards the end of the story.

Theme(s)

Addiction

The basis of the story centered the story of the mermaid’s song and entrancement – which led to the demise or the limbo of many souls. At the same time, the mermaid becomes a symbol of dangerous addiction or obsession. After a long time of depending on the mermaid as his muse, Twain later goes to a point where he cannot help but go back to her, despite his guilt for not spending as much time with his wife even if he wanted to.

Style & Structure

Starting off as a web comic, the story evolved across its various sections, placing each of Twain’s state of mind into a separate section itself. The graphic elements also present and capture the essence of the story without having to be subjected to endless or wordy descriptions.

Sailor Twain or the Mermaid of the Hudson can be found online as well. To see what it’s about, click here.

In the meantime…

A sneak peek at what to expect next week.
A sneak peek at what to expect next week.

And I’ll see you next week!
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