Winner of the IPPY North-East Best Regional Nonfiction Bronze Medal.
Tiggie: The Lure and Lore of Commercial Fishing in New England begins more than 30 years ago in a remote cove on Cape Cod’s Pleasant Bay. Macfarlane, a young marine biologist newly deputized by the Orleans shellfish warden, gathers up her courage to confront one of the Cape’s crustiest, crankiest commercial fishermen, a local legend named Tiggie Peluso. It’s more than a contest between youth and age, or rules and reason, or book knowledge and hard-earned practical experience. It’s a clash of two strong wills and two warring cultures – a bucolic, rustic Cape Cod that is in the process of changing beyond recognition, and an industry that is losing its past under a tsunami of foreign competition, legalisms and new technology.
In Tiggie we hear both their voices. Tiggie’s personal stories about fishing in the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s are at once poignant, matter-of-fact and haunting in his appreciation of the beauty around him, and reverence for all life, especially in the sea. We meet his crew mates and friends, learn about their idiosyncrasies and their humanness, their struggles to make ends meet, their financial binges in good times. We come to understand their disdain for those who try to regulate what they do, their less-than-perfect relationships with women and, above all, their love of the life they have chosen.
Sandy Macfarlane is the author of Rowing Forward, Looking Back, a chronicle of life in a small coastal community bombarded by development pressures. She and Tiggie, now both retired, met regularly at the local coffee shop over several years. Their breakfast conversations and Tiggie’s stories interweave past and present and the threads of their very different lives.
Tiggie is more than a memoir or a how-to book, but it combines the virtues of each. With detailed insights into the catching of fish and moving reflections on the beauty of the rituals, the surroundings, the characters, it captures the moments and the moods of a vanishing way of life.