At age 17, open-water swimmer Lynne Cox found herself being followed by a baby gray whale while training for an upcoming channel crossing. Unable to find its mother, the baby that Cox called "Grayson" stayed with the young Cox, who couldn't return to shore without risking fatally beaching her new companion. Cox's short memoir, named after the whale, is part Discovery Channel-esque nature program (with lessons on basic whale behavior, stingray habits, and grunion mating), part study of life on the California coast. Although the story is at times a bit long (it takes almost three full chapters before the baby whale makes a proper appearance), Cox creates a strong sense of tension in her narrative. It is hard to not become wrapped up in the fate of this baby whale and to feel Cox's respect for the natural world she so easily inhabits and writes about.
Tue., Feb. 19, 7 p.m., 2008