The Time the Waters Rose and Stories of the Gulf Coast

The Time the Waters Rose and Stories of the Gulf Coast

The Time the Waters Rose and Stories of the Gulf Coast

The Time the Waters Rose and Stories of the Gulf Coast

Synopsis

Writer Paul Ruffin celebrates the mysteries of the sea in the short story collection The Time the Waters Rose. From shrimp boat captains to shipyard workers, Ruffin's characters are men who drink, swear, fight, and sometimes kill, but what unifies them is that all-embracing magic of the Gulf coast and the barrier islands. While some are drawn to the Gulf for its mystery, others are there simply to earn a living,and all are unforgettable, from the bawdy, snuff-dipping, rednecks to the land-locked shipbuilder who erects a ship in his suburban backyard to the salty old freethinker aboard The Drag Queen who gives his evangelical shipmate hell for suggesting they say grace beforelunch.
The title story, which Ruffin started writing as a ten-year-old bored with traditional Biblical tales, is an irreverent, satirica l retelling of the epic Noah story. All the other tales are set in and around the Mississippi coast, but they are not your typical sea and fishing yarns. While some of the stories may seem far-fetched, they are all drawn from Ruffin's experiences and are rich with tactile descriptions of the Pascagoula River and its surrounding marshlands, from the sun and shadow play of the open waters to the powerful thunderheads and squalls that arise at a moment's notice over the islands of the Gulf.

Excerpt

I was brought up in rural Mississippi, where fishing was usually a pleasant experience with reasonable expectations: You went after a certain kind of fish with certain baits, and you knew that what was at the end of your line lay within those expectations. It would be only so long and weigh only so much, and it would look right, the way a fish ought to look.

Only an occasional water moccasin or loggerhead turtle represented a threat, and they were easily dealt with, usually by removing their heads one way or another and making them wish they had chosen an easier meal.

I married into deep-fishing shortly after I earned my PhD from the Center for Writers at Southern Mississippi and for over thirty years spent several weeks a year on the Coast, primarily in the Moss Point/Pascagoula/Gautier area.

My father-in-law owned a twenty-five-foot Cobia, Sundowner, which we took fishing out on Petit Bois and Horn Islands and the deeper water beyond them several times a year. We fished the surf, we fished the wrecks, and sometimes we went all the way down to the Chandeleur Islands off the Louisiana Coast.

Some nights we would wade in the surf for flounder, looking for that faint outline of a flatfish lying just below the sand waiting for prey.

Some of the most interesting times for me were when we would rig the boat for shrimping and drag in the Sound, pulling in an incredible range of sealife. I would hold up one strange fish after another, and my father-in-law would patiently name it and tell me all about it. (I’ll never forget the day I held a little elongated oval fish out to him and asked him what it was. “It’s . . .

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