Up Through Water

Darcey Steinke, Author Doubleday Books $16.95 (162p) ISBN 978-0-385-24687-3
This slight, poetic first novel is set on Ocracoke Island, off the North Carolina coast, during a summer in which 16-year-old Eddie makes plans to lose his virginity with Lila, a practical ``island'' girl, while his fey mother, Emily, moves restlessly from one man to the next. The traditional tension between islanders and off-islanders tightens perceptibly when Emily leaves her long-time lover, ferryman John Berry, in favor of a newcomer to the community, a long-haired chef who goes by the name of Birdflower. Steinke's imagery is at once vivid and delicate: while baking a cake, Emily wipes confectioner's sugar off her hands, leaving ``a mark like angel wings on her dark shorts''; water, the one thing she wholeheartedly gives herself to, goes by in ``a grainy rush of green'' as she somersaults and strokes up through it. Too many moments overimbued with meaning lead nowhere, and characters remain shadowy, but overall this is an intriguing debut that hints at promising work to come. (May)
Reviewed on: 04/01/1989
Release date: 04/01/1989
Paperback - 162 pages - 978-0-8021-3734-0
Paperback - 162 pages - 978-0-671-70647-0
Open Ebook - 176 pages - 978-0-8021-9323-0
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