I’ve always been drawn to pirate stories. Being from a place where pirates used to visit and we still have people who dress up as them, I suppose it’s in my blood. The freedom of the open seas is a romantic thought, with salt air in your face and knowing there are still untamed lands out there, far more than the world of today where every square of land is either a Super Walmart paved with an oversized parking lot, or a gang of Starbuckses, all bunched together like grapes with their own oversized parking lots. So, after snoozing through another Pirates of the Caribbean movie, it was time to read a classic.

I’d been wanting to read it for a while but ran into a snag along the way. This book was a Christmas gift when I was an early teen. Possessing all of the tact teenagers have, I showed my displeasure at not getting whatever video game I wanted at the time. Probably Mortal Kombat. Still embarrassed here. The book got shelved and I never moved it, so of course it was no where to be found when I finally looked. And by no where I mean like the middle of western Georgia. Realizing it was as lost as Lindsey Lohan’s sobriety, I bought a new one, the Barnes and Noble edition. Why? It was cheaper. Otherwise I wouldn’t have, as such editions always seem as wrong to me. Not from the text, but the presentation. It’s along the lines of “Opera for Dummies.” This time it’s “Pirates for Dummies.” Again, it was cheaper. I shook off the stigma and bought the darned thing. This one:

It’s one of those books between the size of your standard paperback and hardback edition. These are the most comfortable and easiest on the eyes. You get the clear large font of a hardback without it feeling like holding a brick, a brick with high cotton content paper. Really, the pages in this book are high quality. It’s the stuff they make you use for masters theses. All books should be designed like this. It’s also kind enough to explain all the pirate jargon with handy footnotes. There’s even a nice picture of the author, Robert Louis Stevenson, on the inner cover looking like Remus Lupin from Harry Potter.

“Aye, yer a pirate, ‘arry.”

There’s another reason I wanted to read this, and that’s to help with my own writing since my current work has a similar setting. I wanted to dive into the time period. Have a chance to see the way of life and learn the nautical terms. For the most part it provided. I now know what a palisade and a coracle are. It also helped refresh some other terms that had grown fuzzy in my head.

Anyone who’s had to read this in a grade school English class has already analyzed all the fun out of it. Or maybe you just watched the movie and faked it. With that said, Long John Silver’s a great character, from the way he talks to his ambiguous morality. We actually don’t see so much as feel his presence for a good part of the book. Only in the last act is he there consistently. Mostly the book follows the young Jim Hawkins. It’s a coming of age story in the guise of a treasure hunting adventure, where he leaves the comfort of home and has to fend for himself and make some difficult decisions for men who can be friend and foe at the same time. We get sailing, rum drinking, gun battles, betrayal, murder, superstition, a parrot who won’t shut up, and even a marooned man. From the environs to the characters, the world is vivid and the pacing just right.

Surprising how Jim concludes his tale too.

***** of *****