Vintage reads: Jaws

Last updated 06:00 28/06/2014

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Mark Caunter of Hamilton City Libraries has a thrilling tale to recommend. And you'll recognise the title.

Jaws by Peter Benchley

This classic tale of the huge great white shark which stalks the beaches of Amity, devouring those foolish enough to enter its domain, has been held responsible for putting a whole generation off the pleasures of sea bathing.

The beginning of winter, then, seemed a good time to read the book. But for someone whose main impression of the story was through the movie, the novel came as quite a surprise. Only a few of the attacks are described, and then briefly and almost dispassionately.

The book is more concerned with the impact of the shark on the community of Amity, and especially on its central Police Chief Martin Brody, tormented by doubts about his marriage and his professional response to the crisis, grows increasingly desperate as the shark eludes every attempt to kill it.

This desperation causes him to turn to the fisherman Quint who, in his turn, becomes obsessed with a beast which doesn't behave like a fish should. Indeed, this is less a horror story and more a thriller.

For there are more sharks threatening Amity than those in the sea as conflict between public safety and the commercial needs of a town, which relies on summer tourists for its survival, exposes the darker underbelly of the community.

Much of this unfolds through dialogue between the characters, punctuated by descriptions of a way of life long since passed. In short, this is not a book for those seeking graphic descriptions of sharks chewing their way through screaming victims.

However, if you are after a gripping read, and you are not planning on going swimming in the sea any time soon, you won't be disappointed. 

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- Waikato Times


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