Thursday, February 17, 2011

Book Review: "The Watery Part of the World"

Michael Parker has built his novel The Watery Part of the World (Algonquin Books, 2011) by stitching together two historical facts: the 1813 disappearance of Theodosia Burr Alston (Aaron Burr's daughter) in a shipwreck off the North Carolina coast, and the 1970s departure of two little old white ladies and a black gentleman from a barrier island losing its battle with the encroaching sea.

Connecting these two tales, and constructing from them a haunting story about ties - to family, to place, to home - and about the interconnectedness of lives and loves, Parker's book makes for a lovely, lyrical read. His depiction of the almost-otherworldly barrier island lifestyle, with every human action subject to the whims and caprices of wind and wave, is almost entrancing.

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