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Black Water by Joyce Carol Oates
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Black Water

by Joyce Carol Oates

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Showing 1-5 of 28 (next | show all)
Economical, to the point writing which gives readers just as much detail as they can possibly handle. And difficult to handle it is, this unfortunate story of a girl, representing so many. Masterfully written, it gives you the chills and stays with you for a while. What ifs, and why mes and once again, what if... Tragically, there are no variable endings, only the most horrific one. ( )
  flydodofly | Jun 20, 2014 |
It is a beautifully written, haunting, fictionalization of the Chappaquiddick Incident. Kelly Kelleher meets The Senator at a July 4 party and accepts a ride with him that ends in tragedy. The entire novella is written as the disjointed, often repetitive stream of thoughts that flow through Kelly's mind as she dies. Each chapter repeats some information, often word-for-word, and adds new elements to create a clearer picture of Kelly and her life, particularly her experience on the day of the accident. Oates uses sparse punctuation and repetition to give flow and urgency to Kelly's internal story:

And how unexpectedly sweet he'd been to her. Kelly Kelleher. So radiant and assured there on the beach, wearing her new glamorously dark sunglasses the lenses scientifically treated to eliminate ultraviolet rays, and she knew she looked good, she was not a beautiful girl but sometimes you know, it's your time and you know, no happiness quite like that happiness.

She was bargaining yes all right she would trade her right leg, even both her legs if they thought it necessary, the emergency rescue team, yes amputate, all right please go ahead, please just do it she would sign the release later, she promised not to sue.


Gripping and wrenching, this story that we want to end differently even though we know from the start where we will finish. It is the telling that made me keep reading, the beautiful language and its relentless flow. This book is one that I will think of as "real literature," and not just popular fiction. Highly recommended. ( )
  glade1 | Mar 17, 2014 |
Fascination book focused on the unfolding of a single event, with multiple time shifts. ( )
  SarahWagner503 | Jan 19, 2014 |
This story of Kelly Kelleher, a girl who takes a ride with Senator. Thre is an accident and death by water. It is a novella, thank goodness. It was like reliving a nightmare over and over. I hope I don't remember this one. The point of view is Kelly herself as she is trapped in the car in the black water, left to drown. ( )
  Kristelh | Nov 16, 2013 |
This novella definitely packs a punch. It is obviously a retelling of the famous scandal surrounding Ted Kennedy's car accident where he drove his car off a bridge with a female passenger inside, escaped, and didn't call the police until the next morning. The passenger, of course, died. Apparently there is quite a bit of controversy about what really happened (I missed this as it happened before I was born) but Oates skips most of the controversy and keeps the focus on Kelly, the passenger. The book is told almost completely from the Kelly's point of view as she drowns in the car. It's dramatic - time flying back and forth, hallucinations vs. memories vs. her present of drowning - and short. Oates could have chosen to make this a long novel, delving into The Senator's motivations for leaving this woman to die, presenting more background and aftermath, but instead she keeps the focus on the mind of Kelly as she slowly loses air and drowns. This is a powerful and haunting book.

Black Water was my first foray into the dozens of book Oates has written. I was impressed by it and will continue dipping into her vast array of books. ( )
1 vote japaul22 | Oct 14, 2013 |
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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.
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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 Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:36:31 -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.

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