In the lifelong friendship between John Steinbeck and Ed Ricketts, it was Steinbeck who wrote the books, won the Nobel Prize in Literature and garnered the public attention (both positive and negative), but in Beyond the Outer Shores (Raincoast), a biography of Ricketts, Eric Enno Tamm argues that it was Ricketts who influenced and inspired Steinbeck. Ricketts was a self-taught biologist who was decades ahead of his time in ecological thinking. Steinbeck helped to fund Ricketts’s studies of marine life on the Pacific Coast (from California to British Columbia) and the Sea of Cortez (which he explored with Steinbeck, who documented the experience in The Log from the Sea of Cortez). Despite Ricketts’s immense body of groundbreaking work, he had trouble getting his books and studies published because he lacked certain credentials: the ever-important “Dr.” preceding his name. Beyond the Outer Shores is part titillating tabloid—who kissed whom under which tree and when, part Steinbeck historiography and part boring old biography. Enno Tamm has taken a Big Fucking Light (the lights with which film crews simulate daylight when shooting outside at night) and shone it on Ricketts before the makeup person applied foundation and before the syringes and candy wrappers were cleaned off the sidewalk for the shoot. What you get is an interesting warts-and-all biography of an imperfect man who was a notorious womanizer, a beeraholic, a great intellect and a generous and open-hearted man. I don’t remember coming across the word muse in Enno Tamm’s book, but it is a fitting term for Ricketts’s influence on Steinbeck. It took Enno Tamm five years to write Beyond the Outer Shores, but somehow it seems to be only the beginning.