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Tidewater Tales

3.93  ·  Rating Details  ·  338 Ratings  ·  24 Reviews
"Tell me a story!" Katherine Shorter Sherritt Sagamore orders her husband Peter Sagamore -- and so lets loose a flood of tales that floats them both past encounteres with their own lives and loves, entanglements with the CIA and toxic waste, and fantastically inventive brushes with some of the greatest characters of all time, including updated versions of Don Quixote, Odys ...more
Paperback, 655 pages
Published April 12th 1988 by Ballantine Books (first published 1987)
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(showing 1-30 of 646)
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Nathan "N.R." Gaddis
“Show, don’t tell.” But what if you are a story teller? And are there not better media for showing? What does this little mantra, or such nuggets as “Write what you know” (was it McElroy or Barthelme who said “Write what you don’t know”?), prescribe? May I suggest that it prescribes only a single narrow possibility of narrative construction, and perhaps even prescribes a non-narrative, painterly novel writing; that when narrative comes along we no longer in fact “show” but we tell tell tell! Tel ...more
Feb 03, 2009 Philipp rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Hey, tearing a book apart is fun. This book is alluring, clever and full of sophistication. And it's a horrible book. The pretext of "Tide-water tales" is that reading the "right" books makes the difference between good and bad, beautiful and ugly, worthy and unworthy people. And don't get me wrong, I am all for reading books, I love reading. But lightning shall strike me the day I sniff at people because they don't read the "right" books or do not read at all.

In this waste of paper and ink, the
Vit Babenco
Jul 09, 2015 Vit Babenco rated it really liked it
Tidewater Tales is John Barth’s nautical novel but his ship sails so slow as though there is a dead calm.
“There are two bombs aboard… Much gets discussed, and little or nothing gets done, with excellent reason. The twin bombs don’t go off… and the passengers and crew go home and eat and drink and breathe some more. Over the years, they get cancers and have heart attacks and give birth to defective children.”
The author’s voyage is a kind of quixotic journey and when two souls are lost in the sea
Christopher Sutch
Jul 06, 2009 Christopher Sutch rated it it was amazing
Barth's most optimistic, creative, life-affirming novel, a rarity in postmodern fiction. One of my favorites.
May 25, 2009 Amy rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Amy by: Rough Guide to Cult Fiction
Shelves: cult-fiction
While this book wasn't terrible, it did make me cringe multiple times. It's too clever for its own good, and the ending nearly made me crazy with all of the tidy wrapping up of characters.

This is a story about literally giving birth (to babies) and to birthing or creating stories. Kath and Peter are married, nearly 40, and expecting twins. Kath is 8.5 months pregnant at the outset and every reader knows that the entire story will end once she delivers. Peter is a writer that has been suffering f
Jonathan Rimorin
I read this book when I was 17; I was going through a kind of a kick, from García Marquez to Grass to Rushdie to "Chimera" and "Giles Goat-Boy" and this. I remember loving it; I remember thinking that it was chock-full of genuine affection and actual love. I still have the copy of "Tidewater Tales" I had read back in 1987, but I'm afraid of how yellowed its pages and emotions may have become over the intervening years. I loved this book so much that I wrote a fan letter to John Barth (though tha ...more
Feb 26, 2015 Anne rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I used to read this book every summer while vacationing on Chincoteague Island. I loved it. Gradually, though, it seemed a little too precious for me, and I found myself skipping large sections. I guess I outgrew it.
Mike Gilbert
Jul 28, 2014 Mike Gilbert rated it liked it
Shelves: literature
I wavered on this book - between three and four stars. Its is wonderfully written - perhaps the only book I have read strictly from the consciousness of a married couple. And they are one of those couples who complete each others sentences, thoughts, and of course, stories. The prose is fast and loose and makes you believe you are one of their inner circle as KSS and Peter "less is more" Sagamore sail on Story around the Chesapeake telling tales to their unborn twins and meeting up with three of ...more
Jan 14, 2013 Kate rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An absolute feast of language and literary allusion.
May 08, 2015 Jeff rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Another fun Barthian tome, telling the story of a husband-wife team (the husband a middle-class, mildly famous writer and the wife a pregnant oral historian from an upper-class background) as they sail along the Chesapeake Bay to address writer's block and get away from the impending changes to be wrought by late-term pregnancy. As they sail, we meet their extended family and friends, engage with mysterious and unusual characters, and hear an array of stories about their lives and the political, ...more
Sep 07, 2015 Lynne added it
I finally put this book down with 450 pages read and 200 left, which is not something I ever do. It definitely lost its way somewhere.
Mar 06, 2015 Elizabeth rated it did not like it
Shelves: abandoned
I am rereading the first one hundred pages over and over trying to make some sense out of convoluted sentences and ideas. I almost get it,but not clearly. Names change at will, so I am not always sure who is doing what but one thing I do understand and that is the geography. Thank heavens for that.
Aug 20, 2008 Brian rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'd have given this one six, or maybe ten stars - out of 5 - if possbile. It's definitely not for the passive or distracted reader, and sometimes required re-reading sentences or paragraphs even while paying attention. I've read a number of really good books - more that I've listed here - but none better.
Dec 29, 2012 Scott rated it really liked it
Fantastic. Odysseus, Scheherezade, Don Quixote all make surreal visits, the Cold War and toxicity loom overhead. Wordplay on the Pynchon level, the CIA lurks around, and even a screenplay inside a vagina.
May 26, 2012 Tara marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
5/26/12 - Went to a few yardsales with mom & Kristina today. Got this one & some others. I'm going to give this book a try too. I'm not sure if I will like it, but I'll give it a shot! It sounds interesting.
Jul 07, 2013 Dave rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I had this on my "to-read" shelf but I had read it. Great story with great characters. Fairly long and totally worth it (also see the Sotweed Factor).
Oct 25, 2008 Sean rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I had high hopes with the premise of the book, but was disappointed to find a rambling book that seemed to be an experiment in writing.
Sherelyn Ernst
Sep 08, 2015 Sherelyn Ernst rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: gave-up
I quit this ages ago but am tired of its showing up as current. I did not like it and did not finish it.
Joe Allen
Jul 31, 2012 Joe Allen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting ode to Chesapeake Bay but intellectually pretentious. Good read but many pages to skip over.
Walter Straus
Feb 09, 2011 Walter Straus rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Too tedious for me. At risk of being called a chauvinist, it is a book best for females.
Aug 24, 2011 Tony marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Started this ten years ago - still reading...
Dec 29, 2012 Lysergius rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A follow on from Sabbatical. Excellent.
Jun 21, 2007 David rated it really liked it
barth's most engaging novel.
Nov 09, 2011 Milt rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Lindsay Nelson
Lindsay Nelson rated it really liked it
Feb 05, 2016
Vera added it
Feb 03, 2016
Selvakumar. marked it as to-read
Jan 21, 2016
Rob Boots
Rob Boots marked it as to-read
Jan 09, 2016
Jimmy Rumple
Jimmy Rumple marked it as to-read
Jan 08, 2016
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"John Simmons Barth (born May 27, 1930) is an American novelist and short-story writer, known for the postmodernist and metafictive quality of his work.

John Barth was born in Cambridge, Maryland, and briefly studied "Elementary Theory and Advanced Orchestration" at Juilliard before attending Johns Hopkins University, receiving a B.A. in 1951 and an M.A. in 1952 (for which he wrote a thesis novel,
More about John Barth...

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