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Waterline: A Novel Paperback – February 7, 2012

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 262 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial; Reprint edition (February 7, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0062103970
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062103970
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 5.2 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,638,669 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Mick Little was a family man and a hard-working laborer in the Glasgow shipyards. But the yards eventually closed, and his beloved wife died after years of breathing in the asbestos he brought home from work. One of his sons blames Mick for her death and won’t speak to him, while Mick’s other son is living in Australia. With no job, no family, and only the burden of guilt and grief to keep him company, Mick spirals into a deep depression. What follows is a heart-wrenching character study of a man’s descent into hopelessness. You watch him numb his pain with alcohol, wrestle with the ghosts of his wife’s memory, and leave everything behind to try to find a new life in London only to end up homeless and wondering where he’ll get another drink. Raisin is brutally honest in his treatment of Mick and pulls no punches. He creates in Mick an Everyman who has lost his way forward and back. Waterline is a beautiful novel about a fall from grace and the hope of redemption. --Carolyn Kubisz


“A standout….Evocative…. strong echoes of George Orwell’s classic, Down and Out in Paris and London.” (Maureen Corrigan, NPR's Fresh Air)

“Heartbreaking…. Waterline is a great read, and Mick’s story is one you won’t forget. With this second novel, Ross Raisin confirms himself as an exciting talent, a unique, gifted, and generous voice, a young writer with a vision broad far beyond his years.” (David Vann, Financial Times)

“A powerful depiction of the dislocating effects of grief....genuinely moving.” (Publishers Weekly)

“What impresses about Raisin is the all-encompassing nature of his imaginative empathy, and the way in which he makes the reader complicit in his character’s fate . . . Electric.” (Andrew Holgate, Sunday Times (London))

“Waterline announces Raisin as a profound thinker as well as a distinctive voice.” (Esquire (UK))

“Raisin is shaping up to be one of our most extraordinary writers.” (Catherine Taylor, Telegraph (UK))

“The vernacular is only one aspect of the vitality and inventiveness of Raisin’s writing…. A writer of outstanding talent and it will be fascinating to see what he comes up with next.” (Peter Carty, Independent (UK))

“Ross Raisin’s debut, God’s Own Country, was deservedly acclaimed, and Waterline is similarly impressive, with Raisin again making vivid, compelling use of the vernacular…. It remains to the last supremely empathic, and Raisin’s powers of observation intense.” (Stephanie Cross, Daily Mail (UK))

“Ross Raisin’s story of how a disturbed but basically well-intentioned rural youngster turns into a malevolent sociopath is both chilling in its effect and convincing in its execution.” (J. M. Coetzee for Out Backward)

Out Backward more [than A Clockwork Orange] convincingly registers the internal logic of unredeemable delinquency, a dangerous subjectivity that perverts compassion and sees everything as an extension of itself.” (Washington Post Book World for Out Backward)

“Utterly frightening and electrifying.” (Joshua Ferris for Out Backward)

“A few pages with Sam Marsdyke are unforgettable. Rare are the writers who can create such a funny yet terrifying narrator; the comparison is the murderous Francie Brady in Patrick McCabe’s classic The Butcher Boy…. Deeply unsettling, yet far from a grim read…well worth a visit.” (Financial Times for Out Backward)

“[A] lyrical debut….The Yorkshire dialect and a stream-of-consciousness narration…lend an air of authority to this tightly plotted and disturbing effort.” (Publishers Weekly for Out Backward)

“The first thing you’ll notice about Raisin’s debut novel, Out Backward, is its Yorkshire-farmer dialogue. The second thing you’ll notice is that its teen narrator is a spying, sneaky sociopath…. if you stick around, you’ll get a concentrated dose of evil.” (Time Out New York for Out Backward)

“Chilling.” (Kirkus Reviews for Out Backward)

“The bony grip exerted by debut London novelist Ross Raisin’s Out Backward is muscled by voice…. [The book] reads like a long ballad sung by a lonesome madman.” (Toronto Star for Out Backward)

“Recalls the visceral lyricism of Irvine Welsh…a rewarding—if somewhat disturbing—tale of fear, obsession, and sexuality.” (School Library Journal for Out Backward)

“[Out Backward] will grab you….Sam has a lot to say about the class system, apparently still the bane of Britain…. The ending of ‘Out Backward’ leaves open the possibility of a sequel. And the possibility seems curiously pleasing.” (St. Louis Post Dispatch for Out Backward)

“This is a near-perfectly executed book, seamlessly constructed.” (Brooklyn Rail for Out Backward)

“A mature, taut and beautifully written study of a perennial outsider.” (Sunday Times (London) for Out Backward)

“Compelling…. An entirely original voice…Marsdyke, who blends colloquialism with flights of verbal fancy, is like no other character in contemporary fiction…. He is both very funny and very disturbing.” (The Sunday Times (London) for Out Backward)

“It’s Marsdyke’s voice that is Raisin’s most extraordinary and original achievement, a fabulously onomatopoeic patois woven from the language of the Yorkshire farmyard; a stream of consciousness that slides between the comic and the sinister…. Raisin is one to watch; controlled, mature and compelling, this is a masterful debut.” (The Observer for Out Backward)

“Spend just a few pages in the company of Sam Marsdyke…and it’s an unforgettable experience. Rare are the writers who have created such a funny yet terrifying narrator; the instant comparison is Francie Bradie in Patrick McCabe’s classic The Butcher Boy.” (Bookseller for Out Backward)

“A first novel…with panache…. Engaging. Raisin’s achievement in creating and sustaining such a richly distinctive narrative voice is considerable.” (The Independent for Out Backward)

“Excellent…. Sam is endowed with a richly lyrical narrative voice and an extravagant vocabulary…. He is also extremely entertaining company…. A wonderfully unique novel - a comic commentary on rural decline and a deeply unsettling character study.” (The Sunday Telegraph for Out Backward)

“It is a joy to read for the dialect alone, a linguistic feast…. Sam’s is such a fantastically vivid voice that it’s not surprising reality pales in comparison—that’s part of his problem. It’s also what makes God’s Own Country such an absorbing read, and Raisin a young writer to watch.” (The Guardian for Out Backward)

“Remarkable.” (Sunday Times (London) for Out Backward)

“In Sam Marsdyke, Raisin has created a truly memorable and distinctive voice. It’s a very impressive debut.” (Daily Mail for Out Backward)

“A very strong debut.” (The Spectator for Out Backward)

“The hero of Ross Raisin’s God’s Own Country told his tale of town versus country in an impressively angry, highly individual voice.” (Telegraph for Out Backward)

“Affecting...” (Rachel Nolan, New York Times Book Review)

“Raisin works magic with bleak and disturbing material….In Raisin’s hands the story is magnetic….Without ever hitting a preachy note, here is a book that makes homelessness human, sometimes even funny.” (Dafna Izenberg, Maclean's)

“An indelible portrait of a man in grief….adds up to a portrait of grief that as haunting as it is elegant - and yet it somehow manages to crackle with energy at the same time.” (Michael Hingston, Globe and Mail (Toronto))

“Superb….Spectacularly moving and accomplished.” (Julia Keller, Chicago Tribune)

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Luan Gaines HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on February 7, 2012
Format: Paperback
Mick Little, a Glasgow shipbuilder, has raised two sons, Robbie, married and living in Australia, and Craig, closest to their mother, Cathy. Now Cathy has died of lung disease, leaving Mick and his sons painfully aware of the vacuum left behind, none knowing how to bridge the chasm of grief and comfort one another. Everyone has finally left, Mick overwhelmed by the weight of her loss, suffocated by the memories that surround him, driven to sleep in the drafty shed under a pile of blankets, so unbearable is the empty house. Thus begins Raisin's powerful tale of a man unhinged by grief and unable to find his way back after the death of his beloved wife.

From the rain-soaked shed and moldy sandwiches to a hotel job in London as a dishwasher, Mick instinctively seeks structure as a way to get his bearings. Unable to return to work and community, London offers something different, another direction. Unfortunately, the city brings not opportunity but alienation, Mick a stranger among strangers, though a sympathetic man to a reader privy to the grieving widower's interior monologue, the Glaswegian dialect of a natural storyteller, haunting memories that drift through his mind on long, lonely nights (memories often made more heart wrenching by a surfeit of alcohol), the pithy commentary as he unravels. Raisin renders a protagonist so familiar, the phrasing of his thoughts, conversational starts and stumbles, reluctance to ask for assistance, that Mick's increasing isolation feels appropriate, even rational.
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By Patrican on April 21, 2013
Format: Paperback
Waterline is a magnificent tour de force of interior monologue. The reader sees, and feels, the world of Mick Little, and that world is disintegrating. Mick, a man like many, has two links to social civilization: his job and his wife. As he loses both of them, the pain and grief trigger his feelings of guilt and uselessness and their attendant shame, each reflecting back on the others, intensifying with every cycle. Mick is driven to disappear from everyone and everything he knows. Raisin presents Mick's perceptions so masterfully that at times it's painful. The writing is gorgeous, but Mick's despair is portrayed so intimately that in places it became mine. It's ME who is seeing this world, and having these thoughts. While reading Waterline I would sometimes 'snap out of it,' like waking from a bad dream. This is powerful stuff, at least for me, but it's possible that Waterline is over on the masculine side of literature's gender spectrum. In particular, it probably has especially strong resonance with solitary men.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This was a great read. It was quite harrowing as the main character dealt with the death of his wife. The descent into homelessness was very believable and very well written. It was tough going at times but there was always some degree of hope. If you ever wondered how peole end up on the street, this book helps you understand the kinds of circumstances that could lead gradually to exiting normal society. One of the best books I've read this year
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Format: Paperback
This novel uses the interior dialogue of the main character, Mick, all in a Glaswegian (as in, from Glasgow) dialect. The voice is fantastic, so you experience the novel so differently. Really, you have to read a chapter to see what I mean.

A great read.
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