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From Barnes & NobleBarnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers
Julie Orringer imbues her characters with a sense of life so acute it's almost painful to read. The children and adolescents who populate her short stories find themselves in predicaments not only beyond their control but often beyond their comprehension as well. And yet, Orringer draws her characters so vividly -- their situations and relationships so closely observed -- that one feels submerged in their lives, too.
How to Breathe Underwater is an apt title for this debut, showcasing Orringer's considerable literary acumen. Like objects suspended underwater, her characters think, feel, and act as if they're trapped under an invisible weight. Mired, as if in a trance, they're suspended from reality while the world carries on around them, seemingly unaware of the issues they face. Told through the eyes of a child as she witnesses the freakish death of a peer or through those of teenager struggling to reconcile her emerging sexuality with a religious faith, Orringer's stories reflect a view of the world through the lens of the alien. Innocent observers of a world wholly inexplicable at times, the weight of reality pulls her characters ever upward, toward the light, and the acceptance of the frightening complexities of adulthood. This short-story collection is an assured debut from a promising new writer. (Fall 2003 Selection)