In MY WATERY SELF: MEMOIRS OF A MARINE SCIENTIST, author/scientist Stephen Spotte traces a fascinating trail through a life that began in West Virgina coal camps, drifted through reckless bohemian times of countercultural indulgence in Beach Haven, New Jersey, and led to a career as a highly-respected marine biologist. Together, these stories form a view not just of one man’s life, but that of a generation that often refused to take a direct path to the workplace, insisting instead on a winding unveiling of true self-realization, to achieve previously-unimagined outcomes. For Spotte, the key was water: His years of beach living led to a self-initiated study of literature and the sea. He eventually returned to college and received his training as a marine biologist, and discovered, through his singular voice, a wet and occasionally very weird perspective on the world. His writing is engrossing throughout, the stories he shares–such as his stint as curator of the New York Aquarium at Coney Island at the tail end of the hippie era–are compelling and thoroughly enjoyable as he elevates the people and situations he encounters to mythical levels, blending empirical observation with literary prose.
My Watery Self: Memoirs of a Marine Scientist, by Stephen Spotte ISBN: 978-1-941110-16-4 Trade Paperback; ISBN: 978-1-941110-17-1 ebook 168 pages; $15.95 Publication date: Tuesday, March 10, 2015
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High Praise for Stephen Spotte
“Spotte is a master storyteller, bringing to life the coal miners, gang members, and Inuits he meets on his travels . . . As an ode to watery places, this book is sometimes reminiscent of work by writers such as David James Duncan . . . Recommended for readers of memoir and those interested in the intersection between culture and the environment.” —Library Journal
“A lively survey that blends marine insights with a first-person autobiography . . . a particularly inviting read that stands out from the crowd of either science books or autobiographical pieces.” —Midwest Book Review
“I flat out love this book, and cannot praise it highly enough. MY WATERY SELF reads like no other, managing a singular, irreverent voice that places it firmly in a class all its own . . . The most memorable and important anti-hero’s journey memoir I have read since Fred Exley’s A FAN’S NOTES.” —Chuck Kinder, author of Honeymooners, A Cautionary Tale
“He doesn’t say so, but of course Stephen Spotte knows that his watery self, fiction or no, animates a body of water—his body, the one we find adrift through these pages, seeking its own level in the spirit of camaraderie and adventure and, yes, science too. But the real action here is beneath the surface, where self and thoughts submerged in the murky depths of being bring a “froggish comfort” and to commingle even with pond scum bespeaks a “silent knowledge.” When diving into the storied deep, our intrepid author intimates, we must do more than merely spit into our masks to see what lies in wait for us.” —Joe Amato, author of Samuel Taylor’s Last Night
“With the author who says he “always drifts close to water during those times of the unrelieved sorries,” and is forever inflating our life jackets, we tread a lot of water: from a whale capture off the Arctic Hudson in Manitoba; to acid-tinged lifeguarding off Jersey; to Coney Island’s Aquarium and Osborn Lab, which he curated; to Niagara Falls, where he built his first aquarium; to the reefs of John Pennecamp; and into the Mystic, Connecticut. A scientist who nlost his feel for water transmits its fluidity in the play of language. Spotte gives us a fine ride from the beginning.” —Kass Fleisher, author, The Bear River Massacre and the Making of History
“Stephen Spotte, PhD, probably best considered a marine scientist, can certainly be portrayed as a renaissance man extraordinaire. He continues to perform brilliantly in many different fields . . . For those readers who know Steve or his scientific works and would like to know more about him, My Watery Self is that opportunity . . . Most scientists do not write memoirs, especially ones that might make the reader wonder, with all the associated ‘wild’ experiences with alcohol and chemicals, how the biographer ever became a bonafide professional scientist. . . . A spectrum of thrills.” —From the Introduction by Robin M. Overstreet, PhD, Professor Emeritus, Department of Coastal Sciences, University of Southern Mississippi
About Stephen Spotte
Dr. Stephen Spotte was raised in West Virginia, and after traveling the world’s high seas, he now makes his home in Longboat Key, FL. He is the author or coauthor of more than 80 scientific papers on marine biology, ocean chemistry and engineering, and aquaculture, which became the cornerstone of modern aquarium keeping. His popular articles about the sea have appeared in National Wildlife, On the Sound, Animal Kingdom, and Science Digest.
Dr. Spotte has been a field biologist for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Waterways Experiment Station (Vicksburg, MS); curator and later director of the Aquarium of Niagara Falls (NY); curator of the New York Aquarium and Osborn Laboratories of Marine Science (Brooklyn, NY); director of Mystic Aquarium (Mystic, CT); executive director of Sea Research Foundation and research scientist at the Marine Sciences and Technology Center, University of Connecticut (Groton, CT); principal investigator, Coral Reef Ecology Program (Turks and Caicos Islands, B.W.I.), and adjunct scientist at Mote Marine Laboratory (Sarasota, FL). His research has encompassed much of the coastal U.S., Canadian Arctic, Bering Sea, West Indies, Indo-West Pacific, Central America, and the Amazon basin of Ecuador and Brazil.
Dr. Spotte has published eighteen books, including three volumes of fiction, a memoir, and a work of cultural theory. He is a Certified Wildlife Biologist of The Wildlife Society and also holds a U.S. Merchant Marine officer’s license.