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Carry Me Like Water

Carry Me Like Water

by Benjamin Alire Sáenz


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"Sentimental and ferocious, upsetting and tender, firmly magic-realist yet utterly modern. . . Sáenz is a writer with greatness in him." —San Diego Union Tribune

With Carry Me Like Water, Benjamin Alire Sáenz unfolds a beautiful story about hope and forgiveness, unexpected reunions, an expanded definition of family, and, ultimately, what happens when the disparate worlds of pain and privilege collide.

Diego, a deaf-mute, is barely surviving on the border in El Paso, Texas. Diego's sister, Helen, who lives with her husband in the posh suburbs of San Francisco, long ago abandoned both her brother and her El Paso roots. Helen's best friend, Lizzie, a nurse in an AIDS ward, begins to uncover her own buried past after a mystical encounter with a patient.

This immensely moving novel confronts divisions of race, gender, and class, fusing together the stories of people who come to recognize one another from former lives they didn't know existed— or that they tried to forget. 

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780060831332
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 09/06/2005
Edition description: Reissue
Pages: 512
Sales rank: 725,857
Product dimensions: 5.30(w) x 7.90(h) x 1.30(d)

About the Author

Benjamin Alire Sáenz is the author of In Perfect Light, Carry Me Like Water, and House of Forgetting, as well as the author of several children’s books. He won the American Book Award for his collection of poems Calendar of Dust. Sáenz is the chair of the creative writing department at the University of Texas-El Paso.

Read an Excerpt

Carry Me Like Water

By Benjamin Saenz

HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.

Copyright © 2005 Benjamin Saenz
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0060831332

Chapter One

When Diego woke from his uneasy sleep he was lost and sad and far away from himself. It was as if he was always fighting to belong to his body, to himself, to the city he lived in. Always he woke wondering where he was, his body hurting. Naked, he felt himself trembling as though he were a tree whose leaves were being torn away by a wind that had no respect for anything that was green and growing, anything weaker than itself. His limbs felt bare and raw -- exposed. In the winter, he shook from the cold; in the summer, from the heat. He took one hand and grabbed the other to make it stop shaking. He wanted to yell, scream, clear his lungs of everything that had settled inside him. When he woke, he always had the feeling he had taken into his lungs a million grains of sand -- had swallowed all of the desert's dust in one night, dust that cut into him like tiny pieces of crushed glass. His lungs and throat felt dry as ashes. He was drought itself. He was dust.

Diego wanted to wake and see a morning made of more than gray, colorless shadows that stood motionless and large before a dawn that was dark despite the rising sun. He wanted to wake to a good and perfect sun that would lift all the gray and dirt from the air. He wanted to wake. Instead, he remained in his noiseless trap of a body, caught in the endless repetitions that were his life. He always woke before the light entered the room. It was always the same, always black: black as his coffee, black as his eyes, black as his hair and the dreams he tried to keep himself from remembering. He stared at his hands, his legs, his feet. He stared at himself until he remembered where he was: in this room, this room where he slept but which would never be his. He felt himself to be always on the edge of homelessness. He could not talk. He could not hear. But in the morning that was all he ever thought of doing.


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