"I have become a bit obsessive about how many Hull trawlers went down over the years. They say that it was more dangerous to be a trawlerman than a miner." So begins Tim Roux's fine novel, "Missio", about life in Hull, England, as the only child of a drowned trawler man and his widowed wife. With a father, grandfather and great-grandfather drowned at sea, it's natural to be afraid of water, and young Stevie -- fatherless at five -- has a lifelong fear of it.
"I was brought up", he says, "`dragged up' as we used to call it sardonically back then - under an unlucky star across the road from St. Andrew's fish dock." With a beautiful mum widowed at twenty-two, it doesn't take long for the gossips to begin chattering, and chatter they do. It burns his ears and makes him angry and aggressive. Mum ignores the gossip and does what she has to do.
This is a novel about losing your dad when you are five, learning to live with the stories the local gossips tell about your mum, learning to take care of yourself, and letting yourself live with and sometimes in, your fantasies and dreams. It's about growing up in a fishing community as it begins to wind down, and times get even harder. Tim Roux knows his subject well, having grown up in Hull and had an older brother who was a trawlerman.
"Missio" is a great read. I highly recommend it.