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The Water Cure: A Novel Hardcover – Bargain Price, August 21, 2007


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Graywolf Press (August 21, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1555974767
  • ASIN: B0046LUU0Y
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.1 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,630,318 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In this latest tense salvo from the author of Wounded and Erasure, Ishmael Kidder-divorced, self-loathing, and distrustful of government and restaurants-lives on a mountain outside of Taos, New Mexico, writing romance novels under the name Estelle Gilliam. When his 11-year-old daughter Lane is brutally murdered, Ishmael's already fragile world implodes, and revenge becomes his only salve. Having kidnapped and tortured the man he believes to be Lane's killer, he writes a confession and manifesto, which Everett delivers as this novel. Composed in text fragments and illustrations, Ishmael's ponderous rant covers everything from semiotics and Greek philosophy to deception and the Iraq War. Scenes of torture and grief are affecting but surprisingly few, and scant time is devoted to the captor-captive relationship, or any relationship, other than Ishmael's with words. Many of his fragments are nearly indecipherable, as he inverts sentences and misspells words to contend with the failures of language and meaning, and by extension sanity, morality and law. While Everett's aims are imaginatively and intellectually rigorous, the novel's tangle of emotion and strained logic ultimately frustrate the reader more than illuminate Ishmael's plight. The best scenes, however, relate wry but beautiful moments of civic and domestic tenderness in language that is musical and sure.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Veteran author Everett (Wounded, 2005) melds the techniques of metafiction with a portrait of a grieving father out for revenge. When Ishmael Kidder discovers that his 11-year-old daughter, Lane, has been viciously murdered after being sexually abused, he experiences both guilt and rage. He divorced his wife and thinks that the instability he left in his wake somehow contributed to the victimization of his daughter. Although a suspect has been found, there is not enough evidence to charge him with the murder; that's when Ishmael determines to kidnap and torture the man in gruesome fashion over several days. He also appears to have a bitterly philosophical conversation with Founding Father Thomas Jefferson, speak in a Joyce-like invented language, and moderate a debate between Plato and Socrates. Pretty soon, readers will be unclear about a number of things, including whether the kidnapping and torture are real or part of a revenge fantasy. Fans of metafiction will find this a provocative exercise, but many more readers prefer their thrillers straight up, no chaser. Wilkinson, Joanne

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By sharpeihead on January 18, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Good stuff. Mr. Everett never speaks down to us, the reader but ENCOURAGES us to be better. Buy this and all his work...just be surprised none of it seems similar. I am talking I am Not Sidney Poitier vs. The History...Told to Strom Thurmond here...he is genius. Annie Proulx and him. I can die happy.
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7 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Fred Zappa on November 6, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Having read several other Percival Everett-brand products, I now think of two different "Percival Everett" author functions. One is willing to write fairly conventional novels ("realism," as those who would put air/scare quotes around the word would say), and another finds such forms inadequate systems for conveyance of reality. For me, it was the latter author-function guise--an authorial presence who is grimly playful, willfully indirect, frustratedly eloquent--who wrote this book. The author function that produced "The Water Cure" tries to produce "art," while the other one is willing to write (in some other Everett-brand novels) what usually passes for art among those dwindling few who still read books.

The narrator here is a hack novelist who faces up to his own hackiness amidst the crazed despair brought about by the death of innocence, as figured in his young daughter, and by his own thirst for revenge. The grim, willful, and frustrated author function put into this hack novelist's mouth the following description of art: "I don't believe that art is supposed to stand there like an open door or gate. It's supposed to be a wall that has to be scaled or a minefield that has to be negotiated."

You're likely to find the adventure of reading this novel rewarding if you bring along some awareness of Saussurean Semiotics, Barthesian authorial inspections, and Platonic epistemological queries, as well as some curiosity about what the "it" actually is when we say "It's raining outside." But even if you don't bring all of that, the struggle through this broken narrative could still be very rewarding, and the many references to archaic philosophical notions are much more than mere erudition.
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2 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Kay Lee on October 11, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
so many books use the same guidelines to writing. This book gives you a refreshing, but dark and funny read with a twist. Very interesting.
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1 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Cary B. Barad on June 18, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Despite this novel's intriguing premise, I found little more than a stream of consciousness with no discernible plot.
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