The native vs. newcomer conflict that was the common dynamic in our public debates for years in the Midcoast seems to be history these days. The détente may be the result of non-natives now being the majority of residents, at least in the towns that touch salt water. And that may mean the conflict never really went away.

Former Lincolnville resident Nat Goodale’s novel Vacationland is like the cold splash of a lobster boat wake over a yacht tender’s rail, reminding the reader it’s not all peace, love and understanding around here.

In fact, there’s plenty of conflict between native and newcomer, in the world Goodale depicts. Protagonist Donny Coombs, a Lincolnville native and lobsterman, is drawn into pitched battles with his new wealthy neighbors and wealthy summer folks, despite his live-and-let-live ethic.

And just to keep it real, Donny also feuds with a fellow lobsterman, with the threat of violence ever present.

Vacationland isn’t a sociological case study, though. It’s a fast-paced thriller with lively and realistically drawn characters, snappy dialogue and sharp observations about the Maine version of class warfare.

Donny is not presented as a working class hero nobly trying to eke out a living. Nor is he written as an icon of authentic, rough-around-the-edges Mainer. He’s just a guy trying to make a go of it fishing. Goodale gets the reader to root for him in part because Donny knows and takes his business seriously, but would rather have a cold beer than have heated words. Who wouldn’t root for that guy?

As a bonus, Vacationland provides the reader with an accurate portrayal of what it’s like to lobster. Goodale has done enough fishing to describe the routine, and he credits the Lincolnville lobster gang with helping him fill in any blanks.

But back to that conflict.

First, there are the wealthy new neighbors from out of state who have built a trophy house next door to his modest home. Not wanting to have their view spoiled by piles of lobster gear and rusty engine parts, they pester Donny to clean up his place. When that doesn’t work, they join with like-minded newcomers and push through an ordinance amendment at town meeting to mandate tidier yards and homes.

Then, Donny begins an affair with a young woman who summers on Islesboro with her wealthy parents. He’s got almost 20 years on her, so it’s not clear whether she’s slumming or he’s gold-digging. Either way, her dad doesn’t approve, and aims to run Donny off.

And then there’s the young upstart fisherman, also from Islesboro, who’s intent on breaking all the unwritten rules of lobstering. Donny tries to teach him the way it works, but he’s not an eager student.

Vandalism and violence ensue, but who’s responsible? It all comes together at the end, of course, with Donny doling out his own kind of lobsterman justice.

It’s good clean fun, in a perverse sort of way, and an excellent choice for reading on the beach this summer. But maybe not on the yacht.

Vacationland is available at (search “Vacationland Goodale”).

Tom Groening is editor of The Working Waterfront and Island Journal.