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Water Music (Contemporary American Fiction) Paperback – July 28, 1983


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Product Details

  • Series: Contemporary American Fiction
  • Paperback: 437 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books; 25 Rep Anv edition (July 28, 1983)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140065504
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140065503
  • Product Dimensions: 7.7 x 5 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (42 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #295,891 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"Ribald, hilarious, exotic—an engrossing flight of the literary imagination." —Los Angeles Times



"Water Music does for fiction what Raiders of the Lost Ark did for film. . . . Boyle is an adept plotter, a crazed humorist, and a fierce describer." —The Boston Globe



"High comic fiction . . . Boyle is a writer of considerable talent. He pulls off his most implausible inventions with wit, a perfect sense of timing, and his considerable linguistic gifts." —The Washington Post

From the Back Cover

"Ribald, hilarious, exotic—an engrossing flight of the literary imagination."
—Los Angeles Times

"Water Music does for fiction what Raiders of the Lost Ark did for film. . . . Boyle is an adept plotter, a crazed humorist, and a fierce describer."
—The Boston Globe

"High comic fiction . . . Boyle is a writer of considerable talent. He pulls off his most implausible inventions with wit, a perfect sense of timing, and his considerable linguistic gifts."
—The Washington Post

More About the Author

T. C. Boyle is the author of eleven novels, including World's End (winner of the PEN/FaulknerAward), Drop City (a New York Times bestseller and finalist for the National Book Award), and The Inner Circle. His most recent story collections are Tooth and Claw and The Human Fly and Other Stories.

Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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See all 42 customer reviews
You'll have to put this book down several times just to bring your laughing under control.
Donald Merriam
This is the fifth book I had the pleasure of reading from this great novelist and once again I wasn't disappointed.
marginal
Well-written and entertaining, this book is packed with entertaining characters and adventurous situations.
DMReader

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

43 of 49 people found the following review helpful By Janice M. Hansen on November 17, 1999
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
TC Boyle challenges the reader to "hold on" through the chapters as you race along the rivers and lives of this story. I was enchanted, humored. frightened, anxious and enriched with this experience. Not only did I burn out quite a few flashlight batteries reading late into the night trying not to disturb my husband, but realized I needed to find a more advanced dictionary/thesaurus to keep up with Mr. Boyle's remarkable command of vocabulary. Great fun!
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By R. Peterson on September 3, 2000
Format: Paperback
Boyle, one of my favorite authors, is a black-humored satirist. His books are usually based on historical events and people, but that's where the reality usually ends. Water Music is ostensibly about the "discovery" of the Niger River by a Scotsman named Mungo Park in the late 1700s. In actuality, the book follows the parallel lives of the fictional "Ned Rise", a Dickensian sort of sleazebag and smalltime thief, and Mungo Park, a renaissance man of sorts whose travels and yearnings take him back and forth from Africa to Europe more regularly than his family wishes. The book, arranged in blocks of flashbacks and essays rather than formal chapters, is sprinkled with all of the other quirky historical events that occurred at the time of this story. Boyle, whose short fictions I have also enjoyed in The New Yorker, tells a story that reaches all of the senses, and his books are a mess of smells, tastes, sights, and sounds, not to mention an open door on the raw sexual and animal side of humankind. Like Roahl Dahl (author of such children's stories as Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, and James and the Giant Peach), Boyle's protagonists always seem to end up where and how they should, the bastard always seems to get what he deserves... which is rich and satisfying for as emotional a reader as I am. i always have 3-4 copies on my shelves to give out to friends who haven't read it.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 21, 1999
Format: Paperback
I started reading this book without knowing anything about it. "An adventure novel", I thougt, not very enthusiastic. But, it turned out to be the best piece of literature ever come across my hands. It is incredibly funny, sarcastic and sad. And, the descriptions are so brilliant, the metaphores so good, that I could almost hear, smell and feel Africa. I love humor, when you have to go a little bit deeper and find it in between the lines. I think this is the book that made me laugh the most and made me want to read more and more and more.
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39 of 46 people found the following review helpful By Carool Kersten on June 10, 2001
Format: Paperback
Revolving around the expeditions of Mungo Park, T. Coraghessan Boyle's novel Water Music is not easy to categorize; it is a travel account, picaresque and novel of manners rolled into one.
In 1795 the Scotsman Mungo Park (1771-1806) went to Africa to explore the Niger, a river no European had ever seen. Upon arriving in present-day Gambia, he went 200 miles up the Gambia River to the trading station at Pisania and then traveled east into unexplored territory. In 1796 he reached the Niger River at the town of Segu and traveled 80 miles downstream before his supplies were exhausted and he had to turn back. He returned to Africa in 1805, intending to explore the Niger from Segu to its mouth. His expedition was attacked at Bussa, and Park was drowned. Dedicating the book to the (fictive) Raconteurs' Club, master storyteller T.C. Boyle has concocted an ingenious narrative. At first he spins numerous strands, weaving them into an intricate exotic literary tapestry, as the tale progresses. In fact, the 104 chapters can be read as short stories in their own right. Their titles are sometimes alluding to literary masterpieces by such figures as Ivan Turgeniev, Joseph Conrad and Langston Hughes.
Boyle's story starts in the year 1795. Mungo Park is held hostage by Ali Ibn Fatoudi, the Emir of Ludamar, one of the inland Muslim principalities in what is now the Sahel. A protégé Joseph Banks, erstwhile companion of Captain Cook on his circumnavigation of the globe and now President of the Royal Society and Director of the African Association for Promoting Exploration, Park, a former surgeon on an East India merchantman, has been selected to lead the first expedition in search of the river Niger.
Mungo's guide and interpreter is the intriguing Johnson a.k.a. Katunga Oyo.
Read more ›
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Bec on February 15, 2002
Format: Paperback
Amazing in it's breadth, the story runs the gamut of laugh-out-loud funny to downright depressing, wisking you from London to the Highlands to the west coast of Africa and back again in a whirlwind. I couldn't put it down, reading through the whole five hours of a cross-country fight. But eventually the story stops being funny, stops being ironic, stops being insightful, and becomes unremarkable. I agree with others: Boyle should've ended this book a hundred pages earlier. It's as if he had the idea to run two stories and characters together, but got there faster than he thought, and then wasn't sure where to go.
But because the majority of the book is so good, and because by the time the story starts to go lame the key plot line is really finished, I still highly recommend it. Boyles command of language and vocabulary is especially noteworthy, and he raises some good questions about the nature of exploration, cultural perceptions and what we perceive as civilized - or uncivilized - societies...with a dose of sex, drugs and clarinet music thrown in for good measure.
(Note: written twenty years ago, it's also interesting to consider his depiction of Muslim peoples in light of the situation in the US, Middle East and Africa the last few years.)
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