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The Watch That Ends the Night: Voices from the Titanic

The Watch That Ends the Night: Voices from the Titanic - Allan Wolf An enthralling read. I am amazed by a mind that can structure such an ambitious undertaking as a novel in verse from the voices of various people that came together to sail to America on the maiden voyage of the Titanic. A different style is used for each voice, even the ship's rat, revealing the lives and the desires of those on board through a cohesive tale of interweaving stories. The iceberg is a character with a motivation, and the verse in the iceberg's voice is quite special with a particularly dreadful foreboding. See page 162, for a sample. There is one character who tells his tale through letters to a woman left behind, only to shift his voice into straight prose just when circumstances become very serious. The timing of that shift was perfect and very powerful.This book is a perfect opportunity for readers to experience this novel form while utilizing such a well-known subject. There are a multitude of voices, styles, rhythms, and historical elements to keep the tension building, and yet bridge the interest gap for more reluctant readers. The book gives an interesting perspective into the classes of people that made up the passengers and the crew. In the end, the event treated all classes the same, while showing a certain serendipitous element to survival.The famous people are here, such as millionaire John Jacob Astor, the captain E.J. Smith, businessman Bruce Ismay, the shipbuilder Thomas Andrews, and the socialite Margaret Brown. And the lesser known figures: the stoker, musician, postman, gambler, refugee, immigrant, baker and lookout, and others. Time shifts take place in two ways. One element is the device of interspersing the voice of the undertaker, and the efforts to recover the bodies in the days following the sinking throughout the unfolding of the story. A second is the use of what became known as Morse Code, which appears as actual code for a visual element, to coincide with voices of the telegraph operators. A key in the back matter deciphers the code appearing through the book for another level of meaning. Also included are the telegrams to the ship from others passing nearby reporting ice along their passage.Published to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the disaster, the book includes notes about the real people and what was known about them at the time. For those that survived, there is information about the rest of their lives. A list of those lost, and saved, an extensive bibliography of sources, and a miscellany assortment of facts and numbers pertaining to the ship, the event, and the people on board. Read as an advance reader's copy. Due October 2011. Recommended.