Cover image for Jaws
Title:
Jaws
Author:
Benchley, Peter.
Personal Author:
Edition:
Ist Ballantine Books edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Ballantine Books, 1991.

©1974
Physical Description:
278 pages ; 18 cm
General Note:
"A Fawcett Crest book."
Language:
English
ISBN:
9780449219638
Format :
Book

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Summary

Summary

When three people are killed by a great white shark in three different incidents, the police chief of a Long Island resort town is forced to take action.


Author Notes

Peter Benchley was born on May 8, 1940, in New York into one of America's most celebrated literary families. His grandfather was the humorist Robert Benchley and his father the novelist Nathaniel Benchley. A 1961 Harvard graduate, Peter Benchley started out as a reporter for the Washington Post before going on to work as an associate editor for Newsweek. From 1967 to 1969 he was a speechwriter for President Lyndon Johnson.

Benchley's interest in the sea, stemming from childhood summers spent on the coast of Nantucket, led to his meticulously researching the subject of sharks and writing such bestselling and critically acclaimed novels as The Deep, Whiteshark, and Jaws. Jaws was later adapted into a blockbuster movie (1975). Two of his other books were turned into the made-for-TV movies, The Beast and The Creature. He has also written numerous reviews and articles for magazines and newspapers, and has appeared in more than a dozen television documentaries about marine life and oceans.

Benchley died from pulmonary fibrosis on February 12, 2006 at the age of 65.

(Bowker Author Biography)


Reviews 2

Booklist Review

This novel about a rogue shark that terrorizes a beach community hasn't aged a day since its publication more than 35 years ago. Benchley's writing is lean and efficient this is his first novel, and also by far his best and the story is a solid mixture of small-town politics, mystery, and outright terror. The author positions his protagonist, police chief Martin Brody, as virtually the lone voice of reason in a town filled with people who want to downplay the shark's presence (so as not to scare away tourists with their bulging wallets); and when the body count starts to rise, it's Brody who has to find a way to kill the beast, even if it means putting his own life on the line. The familiar characters Brody, oceanographer Matt Hooper, shark-hunter Quint are not as likable as they are in Steven Spielberg's classic film adaptation, but in the context of the novel, they are well drawn and compelling. Those who are familiar with the movie, but not the book, are in for some surprises, and those who read the book way back when should definitely give it another look.--Pitt, David Copyright 2010 Booklist


Publisher's Weekly Review

Benchley's novel, while better known as the source material for Steven Spielberg's classic movie, has earned its own stripes as a small gem of suspense fiction. With another summer fast approaching, audio listeners may be interested in revisiting the town of Amity, Long Island, and getting back in the water. Erik Steele, a theater and film actor, chomps into Benchley's raw prose with appetite, enjoying every bite of gore and social observation. Making ample use of well-placed pauses and silences, Steele amplifies not only the suspense, but Benchley's surprisingly well-honed characterizations. The experience, of course, is markedly different from Spielberg's film, offering shocks less visceral and more contemplative. A Random House hardcover. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved


Excerpts

Excerpts

1   The great fish moved silently through the night water, propelled by short sweeps of its crescent tail. The mouth was open just enough to permit a rush of water over the gills. There was little other motion: an occasional correction of the apparently aimless course by the slight raising or lowering of a pectoral fin--as a bird changes direction by dipping one wing and lifting the other. The eyes were sightless in the black, and the other senses transmitted nothing extraordinary to the small, primitive brain. The fish might have been asleep, save for the movement dictated by countless millions of years of instinctive continuity: lacking the flotation bladder common to other fish and the fluttering flaps to push oxygen-bearing water through its gills, it survived only by moving. Once stopped, it would sink to the bottom and die of anoxia.   The land seemed almost as dark as the water, for there was no moon. All that separated sea from shore was a long, straight stretch of beach--so white that it shone. From a house behind the grass-splotched dunes, lights cast yellow glimmers on the sand.   The front door to the house opened, and a man and a woman stepped out onto the wooden porch. They stood for a moment staring at the sea, embraced quickly, and scampered down the few steps onto the sand. The man was drunk, and he stumbled on the bottom step. The woman laughed and took his hand, and together they ran to the beach.   "First a swim," said the woman, "to clear your head."   "Forget my head," said the man. Giggling, he fell backward onto the sand, pulling the woman down with him. They fumbled with each other's clothing, twined limbs around limbs, and thrashed with urgent ardor on the cold sand.   Afterward, the man lay back and closed his eyes. The woman looked at him and smiled. "Now, how about that swim?" she said.   "You go ahead. I'll wait for you here."   The woman rose and walked to where the gentle surf washed over her ankles. The water was colder than the night air, for it was only mid-June. The woman called back, "You're sure you don't want to come?" But there was no answer from the sleeping man.   She backed up a few steps, then ran at the water. At first her strides were long and graceful, but then a small wave crashed into her knees. She faltered, regained her footing, and flung herself over the next waist-high wave. The water was only up to her hips, so she stood, pushed the hair out of her eyes, and continued walking until the water covered her shoulders. There she began to swim--with the jerky, head-above-water stroke of the untutored.   A hundred yards offshore, the fish sensed a change in the sea's rhythm. It did not see the woman, nor yet did it smell her. Running within the length of its body were a series of thin canals, filled with mucus and dotted with nerve endings, and these nerves detected vibrations and signaled the brain. The fish turned toward shore.   The woman continued to swim away from the beach, stopping now and then to check her position by the lights shining from the house. The tide was slack, so she had not moved up or down the beach. But she was tiring, so she rested for a moment, treading water, and then started for shore.   The vibrations were stronger now, and the fish recognized prey. The sweeps of its tail quickened, thrusting the giant body forward with a speed that agitated the tiny phosphorescent animals in the water and caused them to glow, casting a mantle of sparks over the fish.   The fish closed on the woman and hurtled past, a dozen feet to the side and six feet below the surface. The woman felt only a wave of pressure that seemed to lift her up in the water and ease her down again. She stopped swimming and held her breath. Feeling nothing further, she resumed her lurching stroke.   The fish smelled her now, and the vibrations--erratic and sharp--signaled distress. The fish began to circle close to the surface. Its dorsal fin broke water, and its tail, thrashing back and forth, cut the glassy surface with a hiss. A series of tremors shook its body.   For the first time, the woman felt fear, though she did not know why. Adrenaline shot through her trunk and her limbs, generating a tingling heat and urging her to swim faster. She guessed that she was fifty yards from shore. She could see the line of white foam where the waves broke on the beach. She saw the lights in the house, and for a comforting moment she thought she saw someone pass by one of the windows.   The fish was about forty feet from the woman, off to the side, when it turned suddenly to the left, dropped entirely below the surface, and, with two quick thrusts of its tail, was upon her.   At first, the woman thought she had snagged her leg on a rock or a piece of floating wood. There was no initial pain, only one violent tug on her right leg. She reached down to touch her foot, treading water with her left leg to keep her head up, feeling in the blackness with her left hand. She could not find her foot. She reached higher on her leg, and then she was overcome by a rush of nausea and dizziness. Her groping fingers had found a nub of bone and tattered flesh. She knew that the warm, pulsing flow over her fingers in the chill water was her own blood.   Pain and panic struck together. The woman threw her head back and screamed a guttural cry of terror.   The fish had moved away. It swallowed the woman's limb without chewing. Bones and meat passed down the massive gullet in a single spasm. Now the fish turned again, homing on the stream of blood flushing from the woman's femoral artery, a beacon as clear and true as a lighthouse on a cloudless night. This time the fish attacked from below. It hurtled up under the woman, jaws agape. The great conical head struck her like a locomotive, knocking her up out of the water. The jaws snapped shut around her torso, crushing bones and flesh and organs into a jelly. The fish, with the woman's body in its mouth, smashed down on the water with a thunderous splash, spewing foam and blood and phosphorescence in a gaudy shower.   Below the surface, the fish shook its head from side to side, its serrated triangular teeth sawing through what little sinew still resisted. The corpse fell apart. The fish swallowed, then turned to continue feeding. Its brain still registered the signals of nearby prey. The water was laced with blood and shreds of flesh, and the fish could not sort signal from substance. It cut back and forth through the dissipating cloud of blood, opening and closing its mouth, seining for a random morsel. But by now, most of the pieces of the corpse had dispersed. A few sank slowly, coming to rest on the sandy bottom, where they moved lazily in the current. A few drifted away just below the surface, floating in the surge that ended in the surf.     Excerpted from Jaws by Peter Benchley All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.