Wednesday, September 30, 2009

A-Z Wednesday

Reading at the Beach is hosting A-Z Wednesday where bloggers take the time to highlight one book that starts with the letter of the day. This week is the letter H.

How to Breathe Underwater by Julie Orringer is somewhere in the tbr stacks. While I don't normally enjoy short story collections, I can say with almost definite certainty that I was attracted to this book by the title of the book. I have an affinity with water that draws me to titles that mention water, lakes, rives, oceans, etc. Unless the book is too far outside my comfort zone for me to rationalize, if it has one of these in the title and I stumble across it, odds are incredibly high that it's coming home with me. But because it is a collection of short stories, and ones that sound rather depressing at that, it has been in my tbr stacks for years, never quite making it to the top of the heap. Maybe now I'll be inspired to pull it out? Even if not, the cover is still hypnotizing to me.

Here's what amazon has to say:

The stories in How to Breathe Underwater, Julie Orringer's debut collection, swim with tragedies both commonplace and horrific. A fall from a treehouse, an ailing mother, a near-drowning, a premature baby, a gun--each is the source of a young woman's coming-of-age, which we witness through Orringer's lovely, driving prose. The author possesses an uncanny ability to capture scenes and complex emotions in quick strokes. In "Pilgrims," young Ella is taken to a hippie household for Thanksgiving, where her mother joins several other cancer patients in search of natural remedies: "Some of them wore knitted hats like her mother, their skin dull-gray, their eyes purple-shaded underneath. To Ella it seemed they could be relatives of her mother's, shameful cousins recently discovered." Shame is as omnipresent as water in this collection, sadly appropriate for stories about girls becoming women. Orringer possesses an acute understanding of the many rules of girlhood, in particular the uniquely childish importance of "not telling" (for fear of becoming a traitor, and consequently, an outcast). But though her subjects may take us to the murky depths--submerging us in the cruelties girls and siblings commit against each other--Orringer's nimble writing and subtle humor allow us to breathe.


  1. The title sounds really familiar so I'm sure I've read it... but for the life of me I can't remember much of it...

    here's mine

  2. Funny. I have books that I bought because I truly thought I wanted to read them, but for some reason I never pick them off the shelf.

  3. Great title and cover! My daughter loves short stories. I will let her know about this book.

  4. The title alone scares me! I'm terrified of being underwater!

    Here's mine:

    ~ Lori

  5. I like short stories as well, but the subject matter is rather dark for me. Not sure it will be on my TBR list.

  6. My favorite place to be in the world is at the beach with lakes and rivers etc. next, so I too am drawn to titles or covers with water in/on them. This sounds like a very good book.

    Thanks for playing this week!

  7. I like short stories; thanks for the lead!


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