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Herring Nights: Remembering A Lost Fishery

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In this memoir of the herring fishery along the Maine coast in the 1970s,  Joe Upton draws from the place and circumstances a mythic dimension of people in an intimate dance with their natural surroundings.

In dories, skiffs, and seiners, fishermen chased herring through moonless nights among the wild offshore islands. Sometimes, when the phosphorescence in the water was firing and the stars were lost behind thick clouds, whales appeared like glowing locomotives beneath the boats, and the herring were shimmering clouds of light. Deep in the night, with surf close at hand, fishermen worked for the one good set that could spell the difference between lean times and a prosperous winter in outport fishing towns, knowing even then that their fishery was dying.  

  • Under the title Amaretto in the 1980s, this memoir gave lyrical voice to a dying way of life in Maine’s herring fishery, just as Men’s Lives (Peter Matthiessen) did for the Long Island surf fishery and Beautiful Swimmers (William Warner) for the Chesapeake Bay blue crab fishery.
  • Back in print after 25 years, with a new introduction from Joe Upton to bring the story up to date.
  • A swift, compelling read. A wonderful accompaniment for a Maine vacation. A great gift for any fan of sea stories.


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