Posted by on February 27, 2020

I doubt that Thorn knows who the president is.  Without a TV and no sign of newspapers or magazines in his day-to-day existence, it’s unlikely he knows much about current events or pop culture.  He’s a reader of books, but even his reading habits, as far as I can tell, focus mainly on classics or the occasional mystery or adventure yarn.

However, he has opinions.  They are primarily based on a deep passion for the world he is immersed in, the natural life that exists just beyond his front door and the end of his dock.  The Florida Bay, the Everglades, the coral reefs, the tides, the water quality, the encroaching development, the surge of construction and tourism in his backyard.

His opinions are largely those of a conservationist.  An interesting word in this era of super-charged partisanship.  Thorn is a conservative.  He wants to conserve and protect the natural resources that surround him, not simply because they matter to him financially (if the fishing in the Keys is seriously jeopardized, then his meager income from selling bonefish flies is also jeopardized), but because the reefs and the oceans, bays and fish constitute a national treasure, one which defined Thorn’s character from his earliest days.

Even in the worst case of environmental degradation, Thorn will probably be okay because he’s a survivalist.  He’ll get by even if the fishing and the reefs continues to dwindle.  For years in several novels he has felt a simmering outrage about this loss and an anger toward those people who should be stewards of the environment but are all too ready to sell out.

This has been a consistent theme in the novels from the very first and because there is a political aspect to environmental protections, the Thorn novels do have a political dimension.

I have consciously tried to be even-handed in presenting politically polarizing issues, but in these charged times, I’ve discovered that a character like Thorn who cares deeply about environmental issues and sometimes lets loose for a paragraph or two, can piss off certain readers who interpret these opinions as a criticism of their own partisan views.

Well, if I alienate a reader now and then because Thorn notices that the tides are rising higher and higher and spilling over seawalls in the Keys and flooding streets, and the elkhorn coral is disappearing and the fish are not as abundant, then so be it.

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  1. Lynn Harrell
    February 27, 2020

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    I will never understand why some people believe blind partisanship is the hallmark of patriotism., when it’s actually the trait of an ignorant bigot. Thorn might not be up to the minute on current affairs, but he’ll never be mistaken for a self-centered fool!

  2. Karen Ronald
    February 27, 2020

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    I think Thorn’s political leanings would be more in line with Skink. Thorn’s charm has always been his willingness to defy social norms. I would not have followed his adventures all these years had I not believed he was authentic. Thorn is a survivor. Thorn ties his flies to catch a fish and he sells those flies to individuals, not corporations. He ‘counts his affairs on his thumbnail’ and lives each day as it comes. Thorn is moral, flawed, optimistic and perfectly broken and for me and most appealing he recognizes he is alone! There have been moments when I was bored with him, mad at him, thought he had sold out, or considered him insane but mostly I’ve been in love with him. As my bookshelf has expanded with his adventures, my appreciation for his universal appeal to Everyman has solidified. I’ve heard it said that youth is for learning and age is for understanding. Thorn has been a vehicle for both. Perhaps I’m prejudiced but I think Thorn is a man for the ages. Good job Jim!

    • JWH
      February 27, 2020

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      Wow, Karen. Thanks so much for the thoughtful and glowing response. I sometimes wonder if what I’m spending so much of my life creating has an impact sufficient to justify all those hours. A response like yours is the kind of validation that keeps me plugging on. Thanks for taking the time and energy to craft this comment.

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