Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

Black Water by Joyce Carol Oates

Black Water

by Joyce Carol Oates

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
889399,938 (3.55)102

Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

No current Talk conversations about this book.

» See also 102 mentions

English (35)  Italian (2)  Dutch (1)  French (1)  All languages (39)
Showing 1-5 of 35 (next | show all)
Historical context makes this story interesting. Short story length would have gotten the point across however. ( )
  deldevries | Jan 31, 2016 |
Black Water is a novelization of the Chappaquiddick incident, in which Senator Ted Kennedy drove into a pond and the young lady who was riding with him died. In the novel, The Senator is given no other name, and the whole event is shown through the eyes of his passenger (named Kelly in the book). The story is told through a series of flashbacks in Kelly’s mind while she is trapped in the car as it sinks.

The run-on sentence structure made the book a little hard to read, but I think it worked for conveying the thoughts of a woman who was in the process of slowly drowning. Also, Oates is viciously critical of every aspect of politics, so there’s something in the book to offend pretty much every group of people (not that this is necessarily a bad thing). I really liked all the underlying themes (the relative powerlessness of women in a male-dominated society, the empty gestures of politicians, to name a few). ( )
  AmandaL. | Jan 16, 2016 |
Based on the true story of Ted Kennedy and Mary Jo Koepechne, also known as the Chappaquiddick incident. A short quick, creative read. Even though one knows the outcome you still can't help but wish for a different ending. ( )
  Lynsey2 | Jan 15, 2016 |
Black Water is essentially the reimagining of the Ted Kennedy car accident in which a young woman was killed. The facts have been changed such that the ages are different, the location is different, and the name of the woman is different. Protagonist Kelly Kelleher is a 28 year-old woman who falls for “The Senator” (his name is never mentioned although it is clear the reference is to Ted Kennedy) and decides to drive back with to his hotel with him. The story is told from Kelly’s perspective and is structured in very short chapters (some chapters are only 8 lines long) that have a nightmare quality to them. Each chapter reads like a short story and most chapters end with the retelling of her last minutes of life (e.g., “As the black water filled her lungs, and she died”).

This was my second Joyce Carol Oates book. I find her writing to be oddly compelling in a way that is difficult for me to describe or understand. I don’t particularly enjoy her stories but something keeps drawing me back to want to read more of them. The two books I’ve read (Blonde was my first book) are dark, and this one in particular was like being thrown into a surreal nightmare. Her stories are strongly feminist, reimagining history in a way that gives power and voice to her women protagonists. I will probably seek out more of her books although I can’t quite describe what draws me to them. This book was disturbing and I'm glad it was short (it can be read in an afternoon) because otherwise i'd be having nightmares about it for weeks.

She was vulnerable as if the outer layer of her skin had been peeled away since G_____ and if men looked at her she stiffened feeling her jaws tighten her blood beat with dread and if men did not look at her, if their glances slipped past her as if she were invisible, she felt a yet deeper dread: a conviction of not merely female but human failure.” ( )
  JenPrim | Jan 15, 2016 |
If you weren't an adult in 1969 you might not recognize that these events are a lightly veiled portrayal of Senator Ted Kennedy & Chappaquiddick.
Literary art: each chapter repeats events with minor but progressive changes, leading us from the meeting of The Senator with "Kelly" to the accident and her death. Kelly's thoughts are the main focus, but we are also given brief chapters with point of view from her acquaintances.
You have to be in the mood to read something different; this is not a straightforward novel. ( )
  juniperSun | Dec 22, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 35 (next | show all)
no reviews | add a review
You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Series (with order)
Canonical title
Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
for the Kellys --
First words
The rented Toyota, driven with such impatient exuberance by The Senator, was speeding along the unpaved unnamed road, taking the turns in giddy, skidding slides, and then, with no warning, somehow the car had gone off the road and had overturned in black rushing water, listing to its passenger's side, rapidly sinking.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Publisher series
Original language

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English (2)

Book description
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0452269865, Paperback)

Joyce Carol Oates has taken a shocking story that has become an American myth and, from it, has created a novel of electrifying power and illumination. Kelly Kelleher is an idealistic, twenty-six-year-old “good girl” when she meets the Senator at a Fourth of July party. In a brilliantly woven narrative, we enter her past and her present, her mind and her body as she is fatally attracted to this older man, this hero, this soon-to-be-lover. Kelly becomes the very embodiment of the vulnerable, romantic dreams of bright and brave women, drawn to the power that certain men command—at a party that takes on the quality of a surreal nightmare; in a tragic car ride that we hope against hope will not end as we know it must end. One of the acknowledged masters of American fiction, Joyce Carol Oates has written a bold tour de force that parts the black water to reveal the profoundest depths of human truth.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:13:29 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

Flattered by the attentions of a senator she has met at a Fourth of July beach party on Grayling Island, Kelly Kelleher accepts a ride from him, taking a first step toward her final confrontation with death.

Quick Links

Swap Ebooks Audio
21 avail.
64 wanted
2 pay3 pay

Popular covers


Average: (3.55)
0.5 2
1 5
1.5 1
2 17
2.5 7
3 64
3.5 26
4 86
4.5 9
5 30


2 editions of this book were published by Audible.com.

See editions

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.


Help/FAQs | About | Privacy/Terms | Blog | Store | Contact | LibraryThing.com | APIs | WikiThing | Common Knowledge | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | 105,832,636 books! | Top bar: Always visible