Spotlight on Alaska Books: The Creatures at the Absolute Bottom of the Sea by Rosemary McGuire

Long after dark, they got the last crab pot strapped down. Jim climbed over the load checking the lashings that held the stack, though it was dark already, the deck slick with sleet and more rain falling on the wind that rolled in off the Bering Sea. 
The lights of town pricked through the night. The red and blue lights of the Unisea Bar. Music drifted over the water, from where the big crabbers lay rafted up. 
“Season ain’t even open for three days,” his deckhand said. What was his name? They all looked much the same in their greasy sweatshirts and fatty bodies, the permanent deckhands of the world. He never hired the good ones, the workers or the college kids. He got the ones the other men rejected, dumber than a box of smashed assholes.
 (from “The Creatures at the Absolute Bottom of the Sea,” Rosemary McGuire) 
In Rosemary McGuire’s new story collection, a man witnesses a tragic accident that calls his own life into question. A young woman meets her high school sweetheart after many years and seeks to make sense of the separate paths they’ve taken. A soldier home from Iraq tries to rebuild his life in a remote Alaskan village.
These are fishing stories, told as such stories are meant to be: simple, often coarse, and tinged with the elemental beauty of the sea. They reflect rugged lives lived on the edge of the ocean’s borders, where grief and grace ride the same waves. McGuire, a fisherman herself, captures the essential humanity at the heart of each tale. No one comes through unscathed, but all retain a sense of hope and belief in earthly miracles, however humble. A dazzling debut, The Creatures at the Absolute Bottom of the Sea will leave readers with a sense of the fragility and beauty inherent in eroded lives spent in proximity to danger.
“Make way for a terrific new voice from Alaska!  Rosemary McGuire’s short fictions are as authentic as they come—drawn from a life steeped in rural Alaska and commercial fishing, deeply imagined.  Her language is luminous, and her characters—rough, innocent, tragic, fully human—are unforgettable.”
–Nancy Lord, former Alaska Writer Laureate and author of FishcampBeluga Days, and The Man Who Swam with Beavers
Rosemary McGuire was born and raised in coastal Alaska. She has worked there as a commercial fisherman for fifteen years, and has also worked in Antarctica and in field camps across Alaska. “The Creatures at the Bottom of the Sea” is her first collection of short stories. It can be purchased through the University of Alaska Press,, or at

1 thought on “Spotlight on Alaska Books: The Creatures at the Absolute Bottom of the Sea by Rosemary McGuire”

  1. It’s like no other kind of stories I’ve read from the fishing world;as if it is devoid of ego. It’s more like coming in from a rainy wind-blown deck after pulling gear all day, your clothes are soaking wet and the stove has gone out and you can’t get it re-lit. All you can do is take off your wet clothes and try to warm up under a cold sleeping bag. And yet, there’s a strange comfort in it, in having dealt with whatever comes and knowing that this is the life you’ve chosen, and glad of it. That’s what reading this book evoked for me. I recommend it.

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