The 7 Footer is a thorough telling of the life story of Australian John McMahon, right down to every vehicle he drove and dog he owned.
McMahon was known as “Caca Jack” — after the Australian term for a small crayfish or the more offensive meaning of the term “caca,” depending on who you ask. He was a hard-working, hard-drinking man who lived a rough-and-tumble life right up until his death from Parkinson’s disease in 2011.
McMahon left school at age 14 and bounced around in menial jobs until he landed first in prison for stealing and then on the deck of a crayfishing boat working as a crewman. Crayfish, Western Australian lobster without claws, were a lucrative business, and McMahon did well until he was caught fishing them illegally and was banned from applying for his own professional crayfishing license. With no job and a family to support, he moved to Perth to start a profitable fencing company, but the ocean remained in his blood. Many of these stories are “fish tales” told to his daughter Karren, who compiled them after Parkinson’s began ravaging her father’s body.
The highly readable book is written in first person, so it’s easy to forget that it’s McMahon’s daughter who is writing. She brings her father’s tales alive and clearly is as talented as her father at storytelling. Although McMahon didn’t live the kind of life that makes for headlines — and at times you’ll wonder why you should care that he was driving a Nissan with his dog Mac by his side — his average-Jack stories make for easy reading, while not exactly earthshattering. He caroused with his mates, worked hard, and loved and provided for his family. Even if that’s not the stuff of bestsellers, his life was one well lived and shared.
Also available as an ebook.