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BLACK WATER BOOK

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The Pulitzer Prize-nominated novel from the author of the New York Times bestselling novel We Were the Mulvaneys “Taut, powerfully imagined and beautifully. Editorial Reviews. From Publishers Weekly. Scahill's liberal horror story is about the company Want to know our Editors' picks for the best books of the month? Browse Best Books of the Month, featuring our favorite new books in more than a . Blackwater is the saga of a small town, Perdido, Alabama, and Elinor Dammert, the stranger who Author interviews, book reviews, editors' picks, and more.


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Black Water is a novella by Joyce Carol Oates. Contents. 1 Plot summary; 2 Characters; 3 Cultural references; 4 Literary significance and criticism; 5 References. Plot summary[edit]. The book begins with Kelly Kelleher in a car that is plunging into mucky. Start by marking “Black Water” as Want to Read: Black Water is Joyce Carol Oates' version of the Chappaquiddick incident - taking place much later in time, and with an older version of Kennedy. Joyce Carol Oates creates this kind of novel regularly. Start by marking “Black Water” as Want to Read: From the author of Apple Tree Yard comes a masterful thriller about espionage, love, and redemption. Louise Doughty is a novelist, playwright and critic.

Doughty has never shied away from traumatic subjects: It was the 50th anniversary of the Indonesian genocide last year, and few popular writers have tackled the subject in recent times. His childhood was peripatetic: Nicolaas has never known stability for long. Consequently, he has largely eschewed personal ties for career intrigue. The story starts in when Harper is taking refuge in a hut owned by his organisation in rural Bali. Three decades of oppressive rule by President Suharto followed.

John is the son of an Indonesian soldier who the Japanese beheaded and an alcoholic Dutch woman. The happiest time of his life are the years spent with Poppa and Nina and his little half-brother Bud.

His path has been a long, hard one and I longed for John to find redemption and love. I literally had trouble breathing during the last few pages of this book. I hardly glanced at what the book was about. Jun 26, Claire Fuller rated it really liked it Shelves: I really enjoyed this - the eighth novel from Louise Doughty. It is very different from Apple Tree Yard, which was no problem for me, but readers who loved that and come looking for something similar might be disappointed, but I'd still urge them to read it.

It's a quiet book despite the horrors it contains. There's something gentle about it and the way it's written. It's about Nicolaas who starts a relationship with Rita so refreshing to meet a woman who is large-ish, confident and likable , b I really enjoyed this - the eighth novel from Louise Doughty.

It's about Nicolaas who starts a relationship with Rita so refreshing to meet a woman who is large-ish, confident and likable , but can't settle. He wants in and then wants out.

And gradually we learn about the things in his life which have made him who he is. Apr 01, Adrian White rated it it was ok Shelves: I guess like a lot of other readers, I came to this on the back of the author's fantastic book Apple Tree Yard but this is a different beast entirely - not necessarily a bad thing but for me it didn't quite work.

I'd describe it as sub-Graham Greene and it wasn't sufficiently engaging to finish reading. View all 4 comments. Told in three parts; part one and three are set in , Harper, on enforced leave after a grave error of judgement, finds himself at a crossroads, haunted by the past, daring to believe he might have a future. While this is a political novel focusing on the instability of Indonesia and war on the communists during this time, it is also so much more than that.

Never in-your-face action but an intensely personal story, in which you really get to know Harper. Everything in this book is subtle, quiet with a beautiful sadness to it. A slow-burner that surprised me with its personal nature. View 2 comments. John Harper is een man die wacht om te sterven. Elke nacht wacht hij op de mannen met machetes waarvan hij gelooft dat ze hem komen vermoorden.

De vraag die we als lezer hebben is natuurlijk 'maar waarom'? Waarom brengt een man zijn dagen door in een kleine hut in het midden van nergens op Bali? Waarom vermijdt hij mensen zo veel als hij kan, en lijkt hij meteen achterdochtig over iemand die hij weleens ontmoet?

Waarom zouden mensen hem willen vermoorden? Wat deed hij in vredesnaam? Dit zijn sle John Harper is een man die wacht om te sterven. Dit zijn slechts enkele van de mysteries die diep in het hart van het boek verstoken zitten. We krijgen al deze informatie met horten en stoten aangeleverd. En het is pas aan het einde van het boek dat we te weten komen wat er werkelijk speelt bij de onzekere oud-spion Harper. Ik had eerder geen idee wat er in in Jakarta is gebeurd en was dan geschokt over de manier waarin de communisten werden opgejaagd, mensen levend werden verbrand en familieleden gemarteld en gedood.

Doughty slaagt erin om inzicht te geven in de gezichtspunten aan beide kanten van de communistische kloof, en ze bespreekt ook hoe vrienden en buren zich tot vijanden kunnen ontpoppen om daarmee hun eigen leven te redden.

Hoe moet je daar naderhand mee verder leven, wetende dat je ten koste van andere mensenlevens je eigen gezin gered hebt? Moreel gezien moet het enorm zwaar zijn. An author that I've not read before but will be reading again in the near future.

Really enjoyed this story. John Harper is an "economic analyst" who has worked for the shadowy "Institute" for most of his adult life. The novel opens with his withdrawal to a hut on a Balinese mountain awaiting execution for past mistakes.

Harper himself is a fascinating, finely drawn character, a man torn by guilt and looking for closure, redemption. If you're looking for an action packed thriller, you'll be disa An author that I've not read before but will be reading again in the near future. If you're looking for an action packed thriller, you'll be disappointed in this novel. That's not to say that this one doesn't pack an emotional wallop, it does. I found myself thinking about this well after I'd finished.

The ending is somewhat ambiguous but in a strange way it compliments the novel overall. The delivery is slower paced but suited the story and the characters. Could feel the heat, humidity and the lushness of the setting. Thought the relationship between Harper and Rita very well done and believable.

Two damaged souls each looking for acceptance and peace. Exceeded my reading expectations and worthy of the high rating. Jan 14, Patricia rated it really liked it. A very well done novel set around the anti-communist revolution in Indonesia which led to riots and civilian massacres as neighbors snitched and turned on neighbors to avoid their own deaths.

Nicolaas was born in Asia in a concentration camp and his father was beheaded by the Japanese. They h A very well done novel set around the anti-communist revolution in Indonesia which led to riots and civilian massacres as neighbors snitched and turned on neighbors to avoid their own deaths. They have a son, Joseph Bud , who drowns when he is five. Something changes in Nicholaas's heart that day. An ice sets in and leads him to the cold hearted world of espionage and mercenary work.

Nicolaas' name is changed to John Harper. He is able to confuse people on his identity as Dutch, American and Indonesian. On assignment in , he realizes one of his missions is to deliver a list of names which has been compiled by the Americans. The list is a death list of targets and their families to be eliminated. Born in a death camp, should he deliver the list or throw it away?

Black Water Lilies

Then an uprising occurs and John realizes his appearance is the code signal for the assault to begin. John has to make a choice between his life and the life of another woman who has led the vigilantes to him. John finds a lifting of the darkness in his heart when he meets a woman, Rita, a teacher in Jakarta. We see the kind of man John could have been if the vectors of his life had taken a different trajectory. Instead, he is a man constantly on the lookout for dangers and menacing people coming after him for the transgressions of his past.

There is haunting beauty in the writing by Doughty. I highly recommend this novel. Nov 21, Anni rated it really liked it. A mercenary outsider with a murky past in espionage is the conflicted protagonist of this epic thriller, which combines the political and the personal in a complex tale of moral ambiguity.

A sense of intrigue, paranoia and threat pervades throughout, with the tension build-up all the more gripping against the natural menace of an exotic location. A nerve-jangling read lies in wait Reviewed for Whichbook. Sep 12, Anna Maria rated it liked it. I must admit that I didn't entirely like "Black Water" by Louise Doughty, it wa slow tedious and boring for my tastes of reading. I wasn't sure about this at first, so I kept reading hoping that it would change, sorry I tried but I just couldn't get involved with it.

Oct 27, Mal Warwick rated it liked it Shelves: Twelve years later, he is unexpe Imagine: Twelve years later, he is unexpectedly summoned to Holland by his mother to live with her and her third husband. From Jakarta to Bali More than thirty years later, after working at a desk in Amsterdam for the company, he is transferred back to Jakarta to help assess the chaotic conditions in Indonesia in the wake of the Asian financial crisis.

He badly misreads the situation, which leads to the overthrow of the Indonesian government. Having disappointed the company and its clients, he is exiled to Bali — Bali!

Now, the man lies in wait, expecting that the company will send someone to kill him. That could be a fascinating book, right? The possibilities are endless, right? From the very beginning she suggests much more: But that analogy is completely missing in the story. To say I was disappointed is an understatement. And if I want to read made-up stories, give me mysteries, thrillers, and science fiction any time instead of pretentious books like this. The historical background The story in Black Water is grounded in historical fact.

Genocidal violence did break out in Indonesia under Sukarno in the mids, and his successor, Suharto, was in truth driven from office in by a recurrence of large-scale violence.

The CIA was deeply involved in , and probably in as well. After all, in the s, the CIA considered that assassinating popular leaders and supporting Right-Wing dictators were the essence of its business — and if its actions could be packaged under the banner of anti-Communism, that was all to the good. Louise Doughty is a popular English author and playwright, the author of eight novels and five plays.

She should have known better. Aug 03, Tripfiction rated it really liked it Shelves: Novel set in Indonesia intrigue decades apart Black Water is a very informative, and very sympathetic, read… Set in Indonesia in and , it revolves around first the PKI communist uprising and then, 33 years later, around the overthrow of President Soeharto.

John Harper is born of a Dutch mother and an Indonesian father. His father dies before his birth. He is brought up by his mother, first in Indonesia, then in the States and finally in the Netherlands — a complicated and pretty unhappy Novel set in Indonesia intrigue decades apart Black Water is a very informative, and very sympathetic, read… Set in Indonesia in and , it revolves around first the PKI communist uprising and then, 33 years later, around the overthrow of President Soeharto.

He is brought up by his mother, first in Indonesia, then in the States and finally in the Netherlands — a complicated and pretty unhappy childhood.

In his mid 20s he joins the Institute — a Dutch company to whom multinational companies and even governments outsource their intelligence gathering in dangerous parts of the world. He is posted to Indonesia just as the PKI is coming to the fore, and his return to the country of his birth is steeped in intrigue and deception. He is employed as a courier collecting and delivering lists of communist agents to the authorities. Many will be brutally murdered as a result of his activities.

He leaves Jakarta and heads to Bali to make contact with a sympathiser — whose family members are immediately slaughtered by the insurgents… did he lead them to their death? Harper survives, but at great personal cost which comes to haunt him.

He suffers a breakdown and returns to the Netherlands. Fast forward through 33 years of desk bound research, and Harper is again sent back to Indonesia — just as the uprising against Soeharto is coming to a head. He is quite paranoid about the possibilities. He does though fall for a local Western teacher, and much of the story is about their developing relationship — how gradually trust increases, and how they begin to be honest about events in their past.

Black Water is a intriguing book on several levels. Much of it is based on fact, and it informs about relatively unknown periods in Indonesian history. By definition, stringing pieces in a sequence involves staying within the narrow line and connecting similar components. The same happened to the story - the auspicious start did not Cautious interwinement of different time modes and perspectives held a lot of promise.

The same happened to the story - the auspicious start did not progress and evolve, but only invoked a complementary platitude. The purpose of books based on true stories, is to give us a possible narrative behind the bare facts.

Blackwater by Eve Bunting

Instead of plausible interpretation and deeper understanding this one delivers only more cliches and pompousness. It felt as if the author had mistaken an image of an all American gal, with unresolved daddy issues and girl-power ambitions, for a person.

The protagonist and her relations had no uniqueness that would make them convincing, but remained the manufactured products waving from the billboard, that one sometimes wants to get to know, but never can. Yellow pages of an artsy journal would have as much effect.

Life can be but a series of coincidences and its end a peak of absurdity, but at least it has some moments of significance, which is a fact this book desperately tries to avoid.

View 2 comments. A brilliant little book. Nov 10, Romie rated it liked it. Although the Chappaquiddick incident was before my time, Kennedy hagiography wasn't.

Still isn't. That myth of Camelot stuff. I hate it. Although I am a Democrat and agreed with a lot of the work he did, I don't know that I could have voted for him.

Black Water

I reflexively vote against all Kennedys, always. Because of stuff like Chappaquiddick and its aftermath. It's a case where there was probably never going Although the Chappaquiddick incident was before my time, Kennedy hagiography wasn't.

It's a case where there was probably never going to be justice and where I don't know what justice might have looked like. The closest we're probably going to get is this book, which is fiction, and which echoes the central events. But only echoes - it's set in a different time, with different people.

I have mixed feelings about Joyce Carol Oates. I like the stories she chooses to tell, and I like her dreamlike attacks on and explorations of the ways we socialize or suppress female sexuality. At the same time, I find her prose prosaic more so when she's trying for poetry and think that her universal archetypes if we can call them that flatten and limit my experience of my own humanity. That's not me in there. Do I like the recasting of the Chappaquiddick story as an allegory for the power imbalances between older men in power and younger women out of power, the ways in which the women are doomed sacrifices?

Do I feel more powerless after reading the book, as though Oates is complicit in taking away the agency of a woman who in real life was clearly motivated? I don't know. I do think the book is worth reading and talking about. One thing I can say is it made me more aware of the way we tell crime stories and scandal stories through the eyes of the aggressor.

Yes, the victim isn't there to tell their side, but the perp usually isn't telling either. I've thought before about whether we're re-victimizing the victims by treating them as objects sometimes of veneration, sometimes not to protect ourselves from existential angst who wants to self-identify as dead? Jun 14, mark monday rated it it was ok Shelves: View all 8 comments.

Feb 06, George K. May 22, Annie rated it really liked it.

Black Water by Louise Doughty review – a taut psychological thriller

Haunting rendition of a young woman's last terrifying moments. Oates comes at those moments from a variety of angles, and somehow it's enough to create an entire novella out of it in a way that seems natural. Black Water is a bit like water how apropos circling around a drain, getting faster and faster as it nears the inevitable end.

View 1 comment. Volevo conoscere la Oates. Spero di aver sbagliato la porta di ingresso. View all 6 comments. Mar 02, Jennifer rated it really liked it Shelves: A very long time ago in a distant land known as the 90's, I was working with a woman who also liked to read during her lunch.

She asked me if I had any interest in going with her to hear an author she liked go speak. I had never heard of this Joyce Carol Oats woman. So we went to this huge church in St. Paul and the place was packed. I was surprised - This many people for some author? I know - I was young and pretty darn clueless.

We were all just sitting there and then A very long time ago in a distant land known as the 90's, I was working with a woman who also liked to read during her lunch. We were all just sitting there and then all of a sudden you could feel a current in the room. I look over and this tiny woman who looked like someone's executive assistant walked in and took the podium. She read. It was really great.

A few days after the reading my co-worker brought in this book with a thank you for going with her to the reading. I read the book and I have to say it still haunts me.

I knew nothing of the Kennedy scandal when I read this - and I was horrified. I still think about this book. Black Water is Joyce Carol Oates' version of the Chappaquiddick incident - taking place much later in time, and with an older version of Kennedy. I wanted to love this, but I really, really didn't.

JCO uses a blunt, visceral style, heavy in repetition, and repeatedly culminating with Kopechne's stand-in, Kelly Kelleher's, thoughts during the crash and as she's accepting her fate.

I couldn't stand the way JCO wrote Kelleher, and it turns out I just had to turn to the Amazon description of her to na Black Water is Joyce Carol Oates' version of the Chappaquiddick incident - taking place much later in time, and with an older version of Kennedy.

I couldn't stand the way JCO wrote Kelleher, and it turns out I just had to turn to the Amazon description of her to nail it: Kelleher is supposed to be a year-old political journalist who then ends up fawning over "The Senator" never given a name for the fact that he's even talking to her.

Someone at that age, and at that point in their career, would be well-versed in men with power and know how to talk to them without going weak at the knees. When you're a journalist, you learn at a very young age that men will try to wield their power to get you into bed. Hell, when you're a woman in any career path, you probably learn this. I had men fawning over me when I was a teenage music journalist! So I just don't buy a journalist in their mids as naive and totally clueless, but Black Water is written in rose-colored glasses.

She's written as too naive, and overly vulnerable and romantic for someone who's a year-old political journalist who likely just wants to go get her fuck on. And if you want to shift the conversation to the real life incident, I don't think Mary Jo Kopechne was this much of a naive twit, either - she was a political influencer!

She had been in politics for six years when this happened - I don't think she was as naive and romantic as this character that's supposed to be based on her. Maybe I'm just a cynical old broad now, but I would've bought into this if the approach to Kelleher had been less about her being some sort of idealistic "good girl.

Not all women have to feel romantically about a man to want to go to bed with him. Maybe she just wanted to get laid! That would've been fine! I would've much preferred a book that didn't have such a one-sided goody-two-shoes kind of character. It would've made more sense if Kelleher had gone home with him because she wanted to try to scoop a story on him, or if it was simply that she liked sex and saw an opportunity to get laid. Instead, we get her impressions of the Senator contrasted with an old boyfriend.

Homegirl, the Senator is not going to be your boyfriend, the Senator just wants to get off. I also really struggled with the idea that a woman would write another woman to be this stupid. Just, wow. Anyway, I could tell that JCO is a good writer and all of that, but I hated the way she wrote Kelleher, and since the book is from Kelleher's POV, that pretty much killed the whole thing for me.

Not a great first impression of JCO , so if anyone has read something of hers that was good, let me know. Jan 30, Christopher Hong rated it did not like it. A scandal, which largely sensationalized the life of Mary Jo Kopechne, who died in a car accident whose circumstances are reasonably suspect.

But Oates' novel or what I can recall, having read it in high school , seems less intent on realizing Kopechne's life as it is intent on villainizing Ted Kennedy or rather the archetype of powerful men taking advantage of impressionable young women. I have no problem with Oates attempting to take on the latter archetype or even Kennedy for that matter except that she does it in the kind of one-sided screed that diminishes the agency and individualism of the Kopechne-analogue.

In speaking about her story, Where are you going? Where have you been? My problem with Oates largely lies in her work existing in a "single dimension," as well as the fact that great art transcends its medium and that her characters are often types helpless and tragic girls vs.

She is understandably upset about this recurring pattern of misogyny but never gives us anything but the Chick-tract version of events and exists solely in Oates singular dimensions. Giving a voice to the voiceless is only powerful when that perspective gives us more insight, instead Oates confirms only victim-hood and powerlessness.

Maybe Oates is going for a spiraling free form: This quick read cuts like a knife, and it lingers. Absolutely superb. Apr 23, Repix rated it really liked it. Muy duro. Fine writing, but not the best Oates. Il senso di colpa, derivazione della sua rigida educazione, la divora: Oct 14, Michelle rated it it was amazing Shelves: I love how Oates chose to frame the narration and though the book is short, the main character Kelly Kelleher is fully realized.

Her actions, reactions, and decisions felt true. When I first realized that this book relied on time travel, I was leery.

I generally don't care for such books and especially not a mystery, but this was very good. Mira's daughter, Annie, was abducted by am man who was able to travel back to where he was keeping her with another surviving child he had brought back. For most of the book, I was able to keep straight the ramifications of people from the present and When I first realized that this book relied on time travel, I was leery.

For most of the book, I was able to keep straight the ramifications of people from the present and their influence on the past when brought from their own time, but I thought that the reason for kidnapping the children was a little weak. That did not really detract from the book and it was a very good read.

Jun 19, Patricia rated it really liked it Shelves: Very interesting time-travel story along with all the paradoxes that can happen. A little disappointing in the end because we don't really know if some of the tampering in time really worked. I don't know if there are more books about Mira, but I will be looking for them, maybe they will help clear up the mystery. Very readable and a page-turner. View 2 comments. Jan 22, Dixie rated it it was amazing. Mar 03, Shirley Hopper rated it it was amazing.

This is one of the few books i would like to re-read, it was fantasic!! Jun 11, Dolly Sandor rated it really liked it. Am completely sold on Ms MacGregor's works! Different and mysterious. What I liked: I won't lie, when I felt the direction Black Water was going, I was more than skeptical about how Ms MacGregor was going to make the story believable and not over the top.

She did it very well by understating what the black water does. Some readers don't like the point of view changes in their books, but I've found several authors who do it well and use it as a tool for the story.

Ms MacGregor is one who 3. Ms MacGregor is one who does it very well. The changes flow smoothly and I didn't find myself confused. As with the first book in this series, I enjoyed the characters and the mystery much more than the paranormal aspects. Black Water takes place several years after the first book in the series, The Hanged Man. The transition is smooth and brief background is given on what happened in those several years.

This made the continuity in the series more "real". I especially enjoyed the continuing character development. Mira, Annie, Nadine, and Shep have moved forward and as their characters have grown so have their relationships. Ms MacGregor doesn't dwell on it, but the characters have moved forward and now have a different dynamic. I always wondered if I could go back in time, what would I change? If I changed something in my past, how would it affect not only my future but those around me?

This whole topic was handled very well in the story. The shifting memories of the people in the present, the sense of deja vu was a wonderful aspect of Black Water. What I didn't like: Again, this is an older book published in but neither the story nor the characters felt out of date. The motive of "the bad guy" and the explanation of the black water was pretty convoluted but didn't detract from my enjoyment of the story. Overall, another solid book by Ms MacGregor.

I enjoy her writing style and her characters. The story flows well and the characters are not card board cut outs. Recommended for mystery readers who like a twist! Jul 10, Marti rated it liked it.

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