When everything around you is sinking, sometimes it takes desperate measures to stay afloat
When Duncan Leland looks down at the garbage-strewn beach beneath his office window, he sees the words God Help Us scrawled in the sand. While it seems a fitting message-not only is Duncan's business underwater, but his marriage is drowning as well-he goes down to the beach to erase it. Once there, he helps a seagull being strangled by a plastic six-pack holder-the only creature in worse shape than he is at the moment. Duncan rescues the seagull, not realizing that he's being filmed by a group of conceptual artists and that the footage will soon go viral, turning both him and the gull into minor celebrities. And when an unsavory yet very convincing local, Osbert Marpol, talks him into a not-quite-legitimate loan arrangement, Duncan can't help but agree in a last-ditch attempt to save the jobs of his employees.
For a while, it seems as if things are finally looking up for Duncan-yet between his phone-sex-entrepreneur ex-girlfriend's very public flirtations and the ever-mysterious terms of his new loan, Duncan realizes that there's no such thing as strings-free salvation-and that it's only a matter of time before the tide rises ominously around him again. A wry tale of financial desperation, conceptual art, insanity, infertility, seagulls, marital crisis, jellyfish, organized crime, and the plight of a plastic-filled ocean, JoeAnn Hart's novel takes a smart, satirical look at family, the environment, and life in a hardscrabble seaside town in Maine.
About the Author
JoeAnn Hart is the author of the memoir Stamford '76: A True Story of Murder, Corruption, Race, and Feminism in the 1970s (University of Iowa Press, 2019). Her novels are Float (Ashland Creek Press, 2013) a dark comedy about plastics in the ocean, and Addled (Little, Brown, 2007) a social satire. Her short fiction and essays have appeared in a wide range of literary publications, including the Future Tense column of Slate.com, the anthology Among Animals 3, the anthology Fire & Water: Stories From the Anthropocene, Orion, The Hopper, Prairie Schooner, The Sonora Review, Terrain.org, the anthology Black Lives Have Always Mattered, and others. Her work often explores the relationship between humans and their environments. She lives in Gloucester, Massachusetts with her husband and a mixed bag of rescue livestock. HIGHWIRE ACT & OTHER TALES OF SURVIVAL is her first story collection.
"Float is a story that presents in novel form serious environmental concerns now being discussed pretty much anywhere ocean brushes up against land and man and sea interact. Intersecting with all of these is the role of art in our world. In Float art is far more than decoration. It is the power of achievement and change. Out of it, we're encouraged to believe, may come the transformation of our world." -- Maine Sunday Telegram
"The book is pitch-perfect and stays precisely on point...There are many levels to Float, from its relentlessly comic banter to its examination of relationships mired by misunderstandings to the parallel presentation of an ocean community struggling with its reliance on a way of life that's quickly growing out of reach and its very real identification with that outmoded livelihood. All of this cast in a maritime milieu that never wavers. And all of this presented against a backdrop of a world being strangled and overtaken by its litter and garbage, by 'the ugly consequences of human excess' ... Hart does a remarkable job of keeping this excess front and center but in a way that's never deliberate, fake or intrusive. It's a stellar model of eco-literature and should be viewed as such." -- Cape Ann Beacon
"[Float] is all of these things: joyful and troubling, hilarious and somber, evocative and introspective."-- Necessary Fiction
"In this witty, profound, and beautifully observed novel JoeAnn Hart follows the vicissitudes of Duncan Leland, the beleaguered owner of Seacrest Ocean Products as he grapples with bankruptcy, conceptual art, and marital woes. I very much admire the contemporary concerns of Hart's characters and her intricate and entertaining plot." -- Margot Livesey