- Paperback: 254 pages
- Publisher: Lethe Press (November 3, 2014)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 159021577X
- ISBN-13: 978-1590215777
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 9 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,272,066 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Bitter Waters Paperback – November 3, 2014
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From Publishers Weekly
"Derleth Award–winner Brenchley charts the treacheries of the sea and the human heart in this haunting collection of new fiction and reprints, all of which emphasize queer male desire. ... Recurring figures anchor the collection across its range of genres, from crime fiction to high fantasy... This clever and subtle collection, Brenchley’s first since 1996’s Blood Waters, visits 17 unforgettable ports of call." - Starred review
From Kirkus Reviews
"Ghosts, monsters and trials at sea complicate romances in these energetic, atmospheric stories. ... the author’s vigorous prose and well-paced storytelling will keep readers turning pages as his twisty characters get inside their heads. A fine collection that imbues fantasy, action and horror with real literary depth." - Starred review
Top customer reviews
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I read them back to back as chapters, but they are all short stories, and could be read in any order. Some characters reappear..as different people(?) some reappear in different times. Reading as chapters, the character of Sailor Martin was interesting, and that of Quin...or Glen?
It is all a bitter water that is involved...either bath, bottled, that of the dying, or that of the sea, which dominates the narrative flow of the characters.
There are no happy endings to any of these, in the traditional tied off in bows, some just end, some end sadly, and some end with a little bow.
The writing is excellent, the imagery created as well as the characterisations. The narrative in some stories I lost as to which 'he' has done a thing (the dog for example at the end) as 99 percent of the characters are male, which made me lose the importance of the end as I am trying to figure out 'what'.....or maybe I just missed a point. The rhythm of the Sailor Martin stories, I enjoyed the most.
I think if you like a gothic turn, or a bit of melancholy, tossed in a bit of mythic in some stories, this would be your cup of tea!
Despite the title and the cover copy, not all the stories feature boats, sailors, or the open water; those that do (e.g., “Another Chart of the Silences,” “Junk Male,” “Keep the Aspidochelone Afloat,” and “The Boat of Not Belonging”) demonstrate a deep knowledge of boats, both historical and modern. All the stories contain at least one gay male character, and most also contain some speculative element. Be warned: Brenchley uses the same names across stories (Martin, Quin, and Gerard recur throughout this collection), but he leaves ambiguous whether they are the same character, a la Michael Moorcock's Eternal Champion.
Five stories do not mention the sea at all, but instead contain a dead or dying character, and focus on the rituals associated with death: keeping vigil (“Up the Airy Mountain” and “The Light of Other Eyes”); preparing the corpse for burial (“Parting Shots”); and disposing of the property of the dead (“The Cupboard of Cold Things”). In “The Insolence of Candles Against the Night's Dying” Brenchley tells the story of an unnamed protagonist caring for his dying lover, while also packing up his late uncle's possessions. His imminent loss parallels the long-ago death of his uncle's lover who drowned.
Whether or not the characters actually travel via ship, each story is a journey through love, loss, revenge, or some major life change; so prepare for journeys to worlds unimagined—to the harem of a Sultan who never was; to a land that isn't quite ancient China; to a war-torn land of magic; to the harsh reefs of the Silences (where modern satellite technology fails); only some of these places can be reached by the sea. But each is a journey worth taking.
I'm delighted to report that my habits have born fruit once again. Although I may not have been the target audience for this book, the stories, insights, and emotions evoked are beautiful. Once or twice I got a little teary, which speaks well to me of the honesty of the narrative. Chaz lets the reader all the way into his head, which is a scary and wonderful place full of hope, self-doubt, compassion, and desire. Plus he's just plain clever, and I love his romance of the english language. I recommend these stories to anyone.
Chaz creates a wonderful world in this collection of short-stories. All tales of the supernatural and horror, I wish I had gotten my hands on this book in October rather than December when the seasonal holidays makes me more in the mood for books like Bitter Waters.
I count a book of short stories a success if I like more than 1/2 of the tales. Chaz does much, much better than this. Only two of his stories left me flat. All the rest, save another three were excellent. Those final three: About a mom waiting for her son to come home from sea; the disposition of a dead friends final things; and a whaling expedition gone wrong each left me wanting more.
And then what happened?
Chaz evokes these four glorious words with his latest offering.