Andy and Johnathan Hillstrand, with Malcolm MacPherson — Time Bandit: Two Brothers, the Bering Sea, and One of the World’s Deadliest Jobs

There is something about fishermen: if you have the luck to be within earshot of one, you know you are going to be in for a story. At least half of it could be bullshit, but it won’t matter. The story is the point—not the truth. They aren’t journalists for chrissake, they’re fishermen. And if you know what’s good for you, you had better sit down and listen. You just might learn something.

The Missus and I don’t get any television channels out here in the holler, so I wasn’t familiar with the Hillstrand brothers, their boat, or the Discovery Channel’s Deadliest Catch show when I stumbled across their book. I’ll definitely be surfing the free cable in search of it the next time we find ourselves holed up in a Best Western.

I’m a big fan of Sebastian Junger and his dispatches from the ragged edges of gainful employment, so Time Bandit caught my eye as a possibly entertaining and enlightening summer read in The Perfect Storm mode. I was not disappointed. These guys are the real deal.

It was 105˚ in our front yard Saturday, so we grabbed the ice chest, some Lost Coast Alleycat Amber, and fled to the beach. I felt a little guilty reading about the brothers fighting the freezing, murderous Bering Sea while I was chillin’ in a lounge chair sipping Eureka’s finest, so to show some solidarity, I jumped into the ocean. ’Erm … not quite the same thing. I guess I could have been grabbed out of the surf by a great white, but at no time was I in danger of dying of hypothermia within minutes.

If I could say one thing about the Hillstrands, it would be: they are insane. By the end of the book, you may understand why they became that way (genetics mostly), but it doesn’t change the reality of their condition one bit.

Two days later and it’s cooled off considerably, but I wouldn’t know it since I’m sunburned all to hell. I just couldn’t put Time Bandit down long enough to seek some shade. There’s one cold Alleycat left and instead of pouring it on my tomato-colored chest, I think the Hillstrands have earned a toast.

For every wound, a balm / for every sorrow, cheer
For every storm, a calm / for every thirst, a beer


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