My aspiration to spend time at sea as requisite literary training died long ago, as a teenager, on a white-knuckled ferry ride to Elba during a torrential rainstorm. Not only was I seasick, I saw the population on board as hostile competitors to salvation. As the ferry lurched and rolled, we gave one another dirty looks, sized up whose head we would push under the waves to keep our own above the waterline. The thin membrane of civility frayed with every jerk and jolt, and the law of the sea, from the literature I loved most, seemed nowhere to be found.
In “Diary,” over at the London Review of Books, Rachel Kushner takes the occasion of a recent boat trip to Capri to consider the wreck of the Costa Concordia, Elena Ferrante, Jean-Luc Godard, Love Boat, Céline, and Jonathan Franzen.