The Helldivers’ Rodeo: A Deadly, X-Treme, Scuba-Diving, Spearfishing, Adventure Amid the Off Shore Oil Platforms in the Murky Waters of the Gulf of Mexico. (Paperback)
From Publishers Weekly
This highly entertaining read follows the adventures of a pack of New Orleans-based middle-aged crazies whose idea of “sport” is hunting dangerous fish near offshore oil rigs. The book is part Hunter Thompson “gonzo”-style tale about “kick-ass, deep-diving, monstrosity-spearing rig divers,” and part paean to the fearless diving sportsmen of the 1950s including a young Jacques Cousteau, who first taught American divers about the “kill zone” at a shark’s forehead who the author sees in the same role as the first men who crossed the Bering land bridge and found virgin hunting lands teeming with unsuspecting prey on a new continent. Fontova provides a fine, detailed history of the pastime that causes 98% of all diving accidents. He artfully describes the birth of the nation’s first fishing rodeo, which later introduced a spearfishing division attracting “divers from all over the world” to the fertile waters near and then farther beyond New Orleans. He adeptly depicts the development of technology that allows men to dive to depths below 200 feet; the reasons why grown men band together in small groups often in competition and risk the loss of life and limb to see who can capture the biggest fish; and the helldivers’ moments of relaxed triumph, which can all be summed up by one of Fontova’s diving pals: “We had our thrill, and we got some dynamite steaks.” (May)Forecast: The current enthusiasm for extreme and dangerous sports of all kinds, combined with an ecstatic blurb from Ted Nugent, bodes well for this book.
From Library Journal
Fontova is a Cuban immigrant and freelance journalist living in southern Louisiana who scuba dives and spear fishes around the oil rigs that dot the continental shelf near New Orleans. The oil platforms have become artificial reefs that attract an astonishing variety of sea creatures and, consequently, divers. The sport is dangerous, but not insanely so; its enthusiasts have swum and hunted for decades, experiencing plenty of scratches and bites but relatively few fatalities. The author apparently decided to write in the style of the World Wresting Federation, which is somewhat off-putting at first. But beneath the macho posturing is his sincere lifelong love affair with skin diving and the mostly male friends who club together to share the adventures, thrills, dangers, stories, and parties. Like most hunters, they are conservationists at heart, and like many men, they look back at their wild youths and marvel at their survival. Fontova gives a nice sense of the primal thrill that comes from testing oneself against the forces of nature. This is a man’s book and will fit in nicely with sports collections in public libraries. Edwin B. Burgess, U.S. Army Combined Arms Research Lib., Fort Leavenworth, KS
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.