Thursday, January 15, 2009

Black Water by Joyce Carol Oates (8/81)

Category: 1001 Books to Read Before You Die

I was drawn to this book because I had enjoyed Joyce Carol Oates’ story in the “Retro Retro” collection I read earlier this month, and I must admit, because it was a short book.

It is a fictionalised account of the Chappaquiddick incident, where a young woman dies in the car crashed by Ted Kennedy. The Kennedy character is only ever referred to as “The Senator” but there are other clues to his identity such as mentions of a brother, the thread of assassination and that he is known by a diminutive form of his full name. Some of the details of the event have been changed in the book (the time period is later, the location and girl’s name changed) perhaps to avoid being sued, but it unmistakable as that event.

The story is told from the point of view of the woman as she drowns. As the black water of the title comes into the car, we are privy to her thoughts about the events that led up to the accident and what she thinks is happening to her. It is often difficult to write about real life events, but here the author has created a simple but powerful book.

I would not say that I enjoyed reading it because I found it harrowing, but I certainly admired and appreciated the writing and it has left a lasting impression on me.

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