By M. Gallagher
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Extra info for Action Figures: Men, Action Films, and Contemporary Adventure Narratives
Such is not a recipe for compelling narrative, but Junger pushes ahead, privileging the account’s “unknowable element” (xii). His rhetorical sleight-of-hand extends to his use of evidence: “I wound up sticking strictly to the facts, but in as wide-ranging a way as possible” (xi). While he professes to eschew conjecture, he asks readers to accept other seafarers’ accounts in place of his central subjects’: “I would interview people who had been through similar situations, and survived. Their experiences, I felt, would provide a fairly good descriptions of what the six men on the Andrea Gail had gone through, and said, and 38 ACTION FIGURES perhaps event felt” (xi, Junger’s italics).
In addition, realist texts tend to define the real according to an inverted class hierarchy. The working class, transparent and unself-conscious in its behaviors, always proximal to physical labor and suffering, rests atop this hierarchy. The middle and upper classes, in comparison, softened by consumerism and schooled in artifice, claim only contingent and mediated access to the real. ”4 Nonfiction adventure texts encompass these conflicting categories. Simply by foregrounding adventure itself—trials of the body and mind in nature or in hostile human environments—the genre privileges a physicality linked to the working class.
Junger thus locates readers in the realm of kitchen-sink realism, where men are physically besieged even in bed. In this world, workplace dangers complement physical threats at home. As Junger later asserts, “[m]ore people are killed on fishing boats, per capita, than in any other job in the United States” (70). He also comments on the economics of commercial fishing, noting a downturn in the industry after the 1980s that results in more frequent, always risky trips for wage-earning fishermen. Junger adds to these conditions the figure of the driven-to-near-recklessness fishing captain Billy Tyne, who “has a particular reputation for pushing things to the limit” (72).
Action Figures: Men, Action Films, and Contemporary Adventure Narratives by M. Gallagher