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Topic: How to Breathe Under Water: Short Stories by Julie Orringer (no spoilers)

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L. G. (L)
Subject: How to Breathe Under Water: Short Stories by Julie Orringer (no spoilers)
Date Posted: 5/19/2008 2:35 AM ET
Member Since: 9/5/2005
Posts: 12,412
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Megathanks to whomever it was who recommended this book!!  I loved it!  The author is an excellent writer with a vivid imagination - she left me wanting more....and more...and more....  I am passing my copy on to a PBS friend who has it WLed, and I am WLing the HC for my own keeper shelf.  It was that good. :)

Here's my review:

 

"Wow - this book sounded interesting and it didn't disappoint!  Each story is a snapshot into the lives of people struggling their own battles...not a "happy" book by any means, but the author brings the characters to life with color and imagination.  Orringer is a "writer's writer" - never boring, and intelligent in voice.   I'm not sure which short story was my favorite - many have stuck with me over the few days I have been reading them.  Well worth the credit, and probably one of the best books I have read this year, How To Breathe Underwater satisfies in ways too numerous to count. :)"

Date Posted: 5/19/2008 2:55 AM ET
Member Since: 1/4/2006
Posts: 1,463
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Thanks for posting this; it is in my TBR city; I'll have to pull it up to the top. 

Date Posted: 5/19/2008 11:25 AM ET
Member Since: 5/23/2005
Posts: 5,156
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Oh, my!  This book is right now on its way to me.  If you liked it, it is sure to please.  Glad you posted about this, Lyn, as I was wondering why the heck I'd had it on my wishlist, and should I have passed on it.  But now I recall someone recommending this...

L. G. (L)
Date Posted: 5/20/2008 6:45 AM ET
Member Since: 9/5/2005
Posts: 12,412
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Bonnie, I was pleasantly surprised.  You know how hard I am to please with fiction, LOL.  Many of the stories are about children or young adults - many left me haunted, in a way, but it's not gorey at all.  I'm not moved often by a book...

Date Posted: 5/20/2008 11:30 AM ET
Member Since: 9/19/2006
Posts: 2,940
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Thanks for the recommendation!  I am adding it to my RL.

Date Posted: 7/1/2008 2:27 PM ET
Member Since: 5/23/2005
Posts: 5,156
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Ok, I finished this last night. 

First, Short stories usually disappoint me because I need endings, little stories that end at the moment.  But, I agree they are perfect "snapshots" of life.  Just without endings. 

I need endings.  Thus, my thoughts are jaded with the fact, her tales just stop.

However, until that last page, they are wonderful, page-turning, emotion-packed stories.  Lots of grief.

Lyn, I wonder though, as with Jesus Land, if this book didn't haunt you because of its very last story, the little boy playing Jesus. 

Not a waste of time, and if you like shorts, this is one of the best.  I wasn't thrilled, though.

L. G. (L)
Date Posted: 7/2/2008 2:53 AM ET
Member Since: 9/5/2005
Posts: 12,412
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Bonnie, I think the one that haunted me the most was the first story - where the kids are playing outside.  The lack of endings didn't really even occur to me until you pointed it out, and yes, it's true.  The stories are open-ended.  It didn't bother me, obviously.  That last story was a bit difficult - but I think Jesus Land prepared me for it.  The other story that bothered me was the drug addict taking her nephew out for the day.

 

 

Date Posted: 7/2/2008 7:11 PM ET
Member Since: 5/23/2005
Posts: 5,156
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Lyn, I could see where Jesus Land would have prepared you, but still, I thought of you all the while I was reading it. 

Something I found amazing, is that you can take the blood pressure of a tiny fish!!  That was a sad story.  Hell, they were all sad stories. 

L. G. (L)
Date Posted: 7/2/2008 7:52 PM ET
Member Since: 9/5/2005
Posts: 12,412
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My God, I saw myself in the little girl with the fish!

On reflection, yes, they were all sad in one way or another, which may bother some people.

 

Date Posted: 7/2/2008 9:34 PM ET
Member Since: 5/21/2007
Posts: 2,992
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I had brought it up as a possibility for my book group :) One of the women in my group doesn't "do" short stories, so it's still in my TBR pile. Your review makes me even more eager to nudge it towards the top - glad to have this gem waiting for me :D