How To Breathe Underwater: Stories

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How To Breathe Underwater: Stories

by Julie Orringer

Knopf Publishing Group | September 2, 2003 | Hardcover

How To Breathe Underwater: Stories is rated 5 out of 5 by 1.
Nine fiercely beautiful, impossible-to-put-down stories from a young writer who has already received immediate worldwide attention. Julie Orringer’s characters–all of them submerged by loss, whether of parents or lovers or a viable relationship to the world in general–struggle mightily against the wildly engulfing forces that threaten to overtake us all. All of them learn, gloriously if at great cost, how to breathe underwater.

In “Pilgrims,” a band of motherless children torment each other on Thanksgiving day. In “The Isabel Fish,” the sole survivor of a drowning accident takes up scuba diving. In “When She Is Old and I Am Famous,” a young woman confronts the inscrutable power of her cousin’s beauty (“Aïda. That is her terrible name. Ai-ee-duh: two cries of pain and one of stupidity”). In “The Smoothest Way Is Full of Stones,” the failure of religious and moral codes–to protect, to comfort, to offer solace–is seen through the eyes of a group of Orthodox Jewish adolescents discovering the irresistible power of their burgeoning sexuality.

In story after story, Orringer captures moments when the dark contours of the adult world come sharply into focus: Here are young people abandoned to their own devices, thrust too soon into predicaments of insoluble difficulty, and left to fend for themselves against the wide variety of human trouble. Buoyed by the exquisite tenderness of remembered love, they learn to take up residence in this strange new territory, if not to transcend it, and to fashion from their grief new selves, new lives. Orringer’s debut collection blazes with emotion, with human appetite, with fortitude, with despair; these nine uncommonly wise and assured stories introduce an astonishing new talent.

Format: Hardcover

Published: September 2, 2003

Publisher: Knopf Publishing Group

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 1400041112

ISBN - 13: 9781400041114

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Reviews

Rated 5 out of 5 by from Honest and Breathtaking I picked this book up based on the cover - I hate to say it, but I like a good-looking book. I read the first few pages and decided to buy it. I was amazed at how good it was! The stories are very original and very different from each other, which seems to be hard to find with all the linked story collections that are coming out recently. The stories are mostly about children and young adults, as they are forced into adult situations and must decide for themselves how they will deal with their situations. There are some heartbreakingly sad stories, but in every one, you can see the characters as they grow up and know that the situtions which they had to deal with at such early stages in their lives have made them stronger, and brave. A very amazing and honest collection of singular, powerful stories.
Date published: 2005-08-04

– More About This Product –

How To Breathe Underwater: Stories

by Julie Orringer

Format: Hardcover

Published: September 2, 2003

Publisher: Knopf Publishing Group

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 1400041112

ISBN - 13: 9781400041114

Read from the Book

Editor''s Note: The following is a portion of the first story in the collection. Pilgrims It was Thanksgiving Day and hot, because this was New Orleans; they were driving uptown to have dinner with strangers. Ella pushed at her loose tooth with the tip of her tongue and fanned her legs with the hem of her velvet dress. On the seat beside her, Benjamin fidgeted with his shirt buttons. He had worn his Pilgrim costume, brown shorts and a white shirt and yellow paper buckles taped to his shoes. In the front seat their father drove without a word, while their mother dozed against the window glass. She wore a blue dress and a strand of jade beads and a knit cotton hat beneath which she was bald. Three months earlier, Ella’s father had explained what chemotherapy was and how it would make her mother better. He had even taken Ella to the hospital once when her mother had a treatment. She remembered it like a filmstrip from school, a series of connected images she wished she didn’t have to watch: her mother with an IV needle in her arm, the steady drip from the bag of orange liquid, her father speaking softly to himself as he paced the room, her mother shaking so hard she had to be tied down. At night Ella and her brother tapped a secret code against the wall that separated their rooms: one knock, I’m afraid; two knocks, Don’t worry; three knocks, Are you still awake? four, Come quick. And then there was the Emergency Signal, a stream of knocks that kept on com
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From the Publisher

Nine fiercely beautiful, impossible-to-put-down stories from a young writer who has already received immediate worldwide attention. Julie Orringer’s characters–all of them submerged by loss, whether of parents or lovers or a viable relationship to the world in general–struggle mightily against the wildly engulfing forces that threaten to overtake us all. All of them learn, gloriously if at great cost, how to breathe underwater.

In “Pilgrims,” a band of motherless children torment each other on Thanksgiving day. In “The Isabel Fish,” the sole survivor of a drowning accident takes up scuba diving. In “When She Is Old and I Am Famous,” a young woman confronts the inscrutable power of her cousin’s beauty (“Aïda. That is her terrible name. Ai-ee-duh: two cries of pain and one of stupidity”). In “The Smoothest Way Is Full of Stones,” the failure of religious and moral codes–to protect, to comfort, to offer solace–is seen through the eyes of a group of Orthodox Jewish adolescents discovering the irresistible power of their burgeoning sexuality.

In story after story, Orringer captures moments when the dark contours of the adult world come sharply into focus: Here are young people abandoned to their own devices, thrust too soon into predicaments of insoluble difficulty, and left to fend for themselves against the wide variety of human trouble. Buoyed by the exquisite tenderness of remembered love, they learn to take up residence in this strange new territory, if not to transcend it, and to fashion from their grief new selves, new lives. Orringer’s debut collection blazes with emotion, with human appetite, with fortitude, with despair; these nine uncommonly wise and assured stories introduce an astonishing new talent.

From the Jacket

Nine fiercely beautiful, impossible-to-put-down stories from a young writer who has already received immediate worldwide attention. Julie Orringer''s characters-all of them submerged by loss, whether of parents or lovers or a viable relationship to the world in general-struggle mightily against the wildly engulfing forces that threaten to overtake us all. All of them learn, gloriously if at great cost, how to breathe underwater.
In "Pilgrims," a band of motherless children torment each other on Thanksgiving day. In "The Isabel Fish," the sole survivor of a drowning accident takes up scuba diving. In "When She Is Old and I Am Famous," a young woman confronts the inscrutable power of her cousin''s beauty ("Aida. That is her terrible name. Ai-ee-duh: two cries of pain and one of stupidity"). In "The Smoothest Way Is Full of Stones," the failure of religious and moral codes-to protect, to comfort, to offer solace-is seen through the eyes of a group of Orthodox Jewish adolescents discovering the irresistible power of their burgeoning sexuality.
In story after story, Orringer captures moments when the dark contours of the adult world come sharply into focus: Here are young people abandoned to their own devices, thrust too soon into predicaments of insoluble difficulty, and left to fend for themselves against the wide variety of human trouble. Buoyed by the exquisite tenderness of remembered love, they learn to take up residence in this strange new territory, if not to transcend it, and to fashion from their grief new selves, new lives. Orringer''s debut collection blazes with emotion, with human appetite, with fortitude, with despair; these nine uncommonly wise and assured storiesintroduce an astonishing new talent.

About the Author

Julie Orringer is the Rona Jaffe Fellow at the New York Public Library’s Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers. Her short story collection, How to Breathe Underwater, was a New York Times notable book and was named Book of the Year by the LA Times and the San Francisco Chronicle. Her stories have appeared in The Paris Review, The Yale Review, and The Washington Post, and have been widely anthologized; she has received fellowships from Stanford University, The MacDowell Colony, Yaddo, and the National Endowment for the Arts. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband, the writer Ryan Harty.

Editorial Reviews

“Intelligent, heartfelt stories that tell a whole new set of truths about growing up American. Julie Orringer writes with virtuosity and depth about the fears, cruelties, and humiliations of childhood, but then does that rarest, and more difficult, thing: writes equally beautifully about the moments of victory and transcendence.” –George Saunders

“Julie Orringer is the real thing, a breathtaking chronicler of the secrets and cruelties underneath the surface of middle-class American life. These are terrific stories–wise, compassionate and haunting.” –Dan Chaon

“In How to Breathe Underwater, Julie Orringer delves into the complex lives of girls and young women, and with uncommon courage and exceptional clarity she shows us what she finds: passionate, often disturbing feelings of longing and jealousy and grief; an intense struggle to make sense of the unfathomable world of adults, and above all a determination to survive. These are tough, beautiful stories, piercing and true, and they mark the debut of an exceptionally gifted writer.” –Ann Packer