The Book

Photo Courtesy of Joy Vaughan

Door in Dark Water chronicles ten years in the life of P. D. Callahan, a college boy from the suburbs of Boston, who jumps straight into the hardscrabble world of Maine herring fishing in 1972.  As he dives deep into the darkness and cruelty of fishing to make money, he realizes that he has walked through a secret doorway, a portal to another reality, a place where knowledge stems from the physical world, the corrosive and creative force of the sea, the emotional act of catching something alive and selling it for food and money, and living to the next day and the next day.

But tension strains his recent marriage as his girlfriend-turned-wife struggles with the harshness of their everyday existence. The shared burden of building a house with their own hands, and her job teaching art to 550 students from their dilapidated car, combine to sap her spirit and leave her with little or no energy to create her own art—the paintings that sustain her. Frustrated with harshness of survival and the strictures of small town life, she begins to look elsewhere.

Door in Dark Water tells the vivid story of a powerful and enduring culture that keeps this boy from harm, but also reaches deep into the growing conflict between the author's two loves: his wife and the sea. Throughout the book, the reader feels the beating heart of this conflict through a riveting narrative of hilarious, and often terrifying, real events—each of which teaches this boy-becoming-man about the limits of endurance, love, and the difference between real and imagined fears.

Read a sample of the book Door in Dark Water by P. D. Callahan