Black Water

Black Water

3.2 12
by Joyce Carol Oates
     
 

View All Available Formats & Editions

Based on National Book Award-winner Joyce Carol Oates' novella about the Chappaquiddick scandal, this tragic and beautiful new opera enthralls as a handsome Senator uses his power to enchant, seduce and carelessly destroy. See more details below

Overview

Based on National Book Award-winner Joyce Carol Oates' novella about the Chappaquiddick scandal, this tragic and beautiful new opera enthralls as a handsome Senator uses his power to enchant, seduce and carelessly destroy.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
``You would not choose to drown, to die . . . trapped together in a sinking car, with a stranger,'' a narrator observes about the fate of Kelly Kelleher, heroine of Oates's ( Because It Is Bitter and Because It Is My Heart ) gripping and hallucinatory novella. In a plot shocking for its blatant familiarity, a figure identified as The Senator tipsily drives a young woman away from a Fourth of July party, veers off a dock and plunges the car into dank water, where he deserts her and she drowns, a chastely wrapped condom still in her Laura Ashley purse. Brief chapters, some taut as prose poems, sink into Kelly's past (she had hoped to help him campaign for the presidency) and then surge forward. Ebbing and rising like the engulfing waters, the narrative, too, swallows her in its finale. Returning to the theme of Death and the Maiden (the picture hangs on a wall in American Appetites , and the phrase was the original title of her classic short story ``Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?''), Oates here extracts a deeper, more terrible meaning. Kelly feels ``chosen,'' having long ago fallen under the sway of Politics and Eros as incarnated by the treacherous Senator, on whom she based her college honors thesis. The author chillingly augments her scrutiny of the tainted American official by incorporating statements about capital punishment by current legalists. Oates is at the top of her stunning form. 50,000 first printing; BOMC selection; author tour. (May)
Library Journal
It all began when Kelly Kelleher was introduced to The Senator, a man she had wanted to meet since selecting him as the topic of her senior honors thesis. Charmed and infatuated, Kelly eagerly accepts his invitation to leave the island party where they've met and ride back to Boothbay Harbor together on the late night ferry. Those who remember Chappaquiddick can predict Kelly's ultimate fate, but certainly not the horrors she must have suffered strapped to the seat of a car that would become an aqueous death chamber. Immense courage shines through the tangled streams of her thoughts, memories, and hallucinations. As witnesses to her plight, we can only keep vigil as she drifts in and out of consciousness, waiting for the reprieve that surely must be hers. Oates brilliantly redefines the meanings of guilt and innocence, vengeance and reward in this thought-provoking allegory of our life and times. Highly recommended for all fiction collections. Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 1/92.-- Janet W. Reit, Univ. of Vermont Lib., Burlington
School Library Journal
YA-- ``She was the one he had chosen.'' This is Kelly Kelleher's thought as she leaves the party with a senator, as much a symbol of her desire to change her life as it is the fulfillment of a romantic dream. She's a young woman struggling to assert herself, but this rash move ultimately ends in tragedy. Oates makes readers feel that they are along for the very frightening ride in the car with Kelly and her senator in this shocking, all-too-familiar story. It's fast paced, almost as if to compel readers to keep up with the speeding car. Although brief, the book develops Kelly's character so well that the loss of such a young and promising life is deeply felt. The man sharing the last moments of her life is known only as ``The Senator'' throughout. Even for readers unaware of the true incident that was catalyst for this story, the novel stands strongly on its own . -- Carolyn Koehler, Richard Byrd Library, Fairfax County, VA
Kirkus Reviews
Oates's latest is an impassioned re-creation of the tragedy at Chappaquiddick—with names withheld and the date moved to the current, post-Reagan era. Her name is Elizabeth Kelleher, called "Kelly" by her friends; her age, 26 and eight months; occupation, reporter for the liberal Citizen's Inquiry, whose editor once worked on the Bobby Kennedy campaign. Pretty, tentative Kelly attends casually and without expectations the Fourth of July get-together hosted by her best friend, Buffy St. John, on Grayling Island—little realizing that "the Senator"—charismatic liberal politician, contender for the 1988 Democratic presidential nomination, and subject of her senior thesis at Brown—will drop in for a few drinks and a game or two of tennis. The Senator, red-eyed, heavy, and in his late 50s, looks the political warhorse he is, but it's his appetite for debate, politics, and life itself that intrigues the young journalist—he is, after all, her hero. She allows him to lead her on a walk along the beach, to kiss her, to suggest that they catch the ferry off the island and have dinner at his hotel. She is the one, the one he's chosen, Kelly tells herself, frightened though she is as the Senator speeds down a dark, unpaved road toward the ferry, sloshing a fresh gin-and-tonic on her dress. But when his car flips off the road and into the black, polluted Indian River, Kelly gradually realizes that her assumption is false: she isn't chosen, at least not for rescue—and her brief life, with its half- understood longings, fears, and dreams, is over almost before it has begun. One may question whether yet another fictional account, no matter how brief and evocative, ofthis infamous accident is really worthwhile—though Oates fans (and there are many) won't be disappointed.

From the Publisher
“A powerfully imagined novel … it continues to haunt us.”
— New York Times Book Review

“Intense … signals another frontier opened with the sword of a master storyteller.”
Chicago Tribune

“Its power of evocation is remarkable.”
The New Yorker

Read More

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780525934554
Publisher:
Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
Publication date:
05/28/1992
Pages:
160
Product dimensions:
8.35(w) x 5.13(h) x 0.68(d)

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
“A powerfully imagined novel … it continues to haunt us.”
— New York Times Book Review

“Intense … signals another frontier opened with the sword of a master storyteller.”
Chicago Tribune

“Its power of evocation is remarkable.”
The New Yorker

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >