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Publisher's Summary

On Grayling Island, off the coast of Maine, Kelly Kelleher meets the Senator at a Fourth of July beach party. He is old enough to be her father; she is young enough to find his attention flattering. And with an optimism born of inexperience, she believes she can take care of herself. As evening approaches, the two move unaware toward a shattering appointment with destiny. When the Senator offers Kelly a ride to the ferry, it is not love but death that awaits her.
©1993 Joyce Carol Oates (P)2009 Phoenix

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Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

While Drowning...

What's summer without a 4th of July party on a beach in Martha's Vineyard, a man-eating shark, or a plunge off a bridge into a murky tide-swept pond?

This novella was first published in 1992, 23 yrs. after Chappaquiddick. Oates began taking notes on the events at Chappaquiddick in 1969 out of what she called "a horrified fascination and sympathy" for the victim, adding that the story is not Chappaquiddick, but rather she wanted the story to be "somewhat mythical, the almost archetypal experience of a young woman who trusts an older man and whose trust is violated.'

Kelly Kelleher is 26, one of the young women decorating the Washington political scene, when she attends a 4th of July party at a celebrity couple's beachfront home. It's rumored *The Senator* will be attending; a powerful 50-something, Democratic Senator, separated from his wife, and the Democratic nominee for the Presidency, from which he withdrew. The man has a reputation. Sounding familiar?
Oates stays away from the facts and evidence of that event, keeping the reader with the victim in her parallel story. The car swerves onto a side road, bumps along, then smashes through the guardrail. The plunge is more sudden than she thought it would be...the water smells like sewage and is thick and black. As it disappears into the murky water she fights to free herself, she's stuck; she feels his foot push against her head as he propels himself away from her and the sinking vehicle. Struggling to keep the sludge out of her lungs, her mind begins to madly recount the events of the day, then reel through how she got to this place...and "I can't die here..."

The writing is what you'd expect from Oates, descriptive and intelligent, but the style she chooses for this story was not my preference. The narrative is a fast flow of words, almost frenetic, reflecting the panic of the situation through the victim's thoughts alone. But that didn't detract from what was a powerful experience. If you are considering this audiobook, I'll give you this from a more qualified listener: *In 2007, The New York Times Book Review editor Dwight Garner wrote that Amanda Plummer's "cool, dark telling" of Black Water was "the best book on tape ever recorded."

16 of 21 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Breathtakingly Good

This past July, I read an article in the New York Times called 'What (Books) to Listen to This Summer,' and thus received recommendations for some astonishingly great books I might never have stumbled onto otherwise. A few of them were so good I'll never forget them. One such incredible gem is Black Water, narrated by the preternaturally gifted Amanda Plummer. This book (which tells a fictionalized version of the Chappaquiddick story from the point of view of a fictionalized Mary Jo Kopechne) might have been a very good book on paper--or it might have been simply ordinary--but now I'll never know, because having heard even five minutes of the text as performed by Plummer, you can't ever go back and try just reading the book to yourself. I've never, ever heard anything like this performance, which ranks up there with the likes of those by Meryl Streep, Alan Rickman, and Santino Fontana, and maybe even exceeds them. This isn't just an audiobook; it's great ART.

Still, be forewarned that this is neither a feel-good read nor a page-turner that you will be tempted to listen to all in one sitting. This is dark, dark water indeed, friends. Proceed with caution. Grade: A+

4 of 9 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Awesome

Where does Black Water rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

#3

Would you be willing to try another book from Joyce Carol Oates? Why or why not?

Yes I would

Which scene was your favorite?

All of then

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Most definity

Any additional comments?

All I have to say is the book was great

1 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Emily
  • East Hampton, NY, USA
  • 10-07-12

Irresistable

I couldn't stop listening to this powerfully written and powerfully read book by one of my favorite authors. I think it would appeal much more to women than men however.

1 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Chillingly read

Would you listen to Black Water again? Why?

I would listen again as it is short but brutally observant, a kind of anti-thriller in which a foregone conclusion makes the character's thoughts of survival that much more tragic.

What about Amanda Plummer’s performance did you like?

Somehow frantic and detached, Plummer captures the feeling of drowning as a whirlwind of desperation and acceptance, a feverish update of the tone of An Occurrence at Owl Bridge

0 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Haunting and Beautifully performed by the narrator

Where does Black Water rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

Black Water is one of the best audiobooks I've ever listened to. I was captivated beginning with the first sentence. As the story began, I knew it was one that I'd listen to without interruption.

The story itself is creative and imaginative. It's a new twist on the Chappaquiddick events but is told from the young female passenger's point of view. It is an absolutely haunting novel. I'll never forget this book!

Who was your favorite character and why?

Kelly Kelleher because you can relate to what Mary Jo Kopechne went through as she drowned that night.

What about Amanda Plummer’s performance did you like?

Amanda Plummer is far more talented than I ever knew!! Her narration was more than mere reading. It was a tour de force. I loved it.

Who was the most memorable character of Black Water and why?

Kelly Kelleher was my favorite character because through her eyes you feel every emotion that her brief life held.

Any additional comments?

I will recommend Black Water to everybody who loves a great book. But, wow, what a performance by Amanda Plummer. She made this audiobook a masterpiece!

0 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

beautiful prose + tragic story, dramatic read

Joyce Carol Oates is a master of fiction, and this novella is no exception. Story is dark, depressing, but beautifully done. Inspired by the Chappaquiddick incident

0 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Very enjoyable

Very well acted, great performance, although the script did not match my hard copy. The book must have been revised at some point, some parts were missing some were added. I used a Plume/Penguin book from 1990.

0 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

Boring

What would have made Black Water better?

Only to cut it to 4 pages

What could Joyce Carol Oates have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

Not repeat Anna repeat and...repeat

Would you be willing to try another one of Amanda Plummer’s performances?

Off course

You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

No

Any additional comments?

Carol Oates writes so good, so why this abberation?

1 of 9 people found this review helpful

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Robert
  • 05-01-10

Aching

Joyce Carol Oates once again explores the aching heart of a situation. JCO fans who love that sort of exploration will love this; I am ; I did.