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Black Water

3.52 of 5 stars 3.52  ·  rating details  ·  3,974 ratings  ·  364 reviews
Based on National Book Award-winner Joyce Carol Oates' novella about the Chappaquiddick scandal, this tragic and beautiful new opera enthralls as a handsome Senator used power to enchant, seduce and carelessly destroy.
Paperback, 154 pages
Published 1992 by Macmillan
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Madeline
The firs time I heard about the so-called Chappaquiddick incident was in college. It was right after Ted Kennedy died, and we were talking about it in one of my classes, and we got around to the various Kennedy scandals, and then my professor remarked, "you know, everyone on the news keeps talking about all the good things that Ted Kennedy did during his life - no one's mentioned how he was responsible for a woman's death."

Here are the facts: on the night of July 18th 1969, Ted Kennedy left a pa
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mark monday
Oates inexplicably squanders her gifts in this dreamlike, stream-of-conscious exploration of a young woman’s state of mind, her attraction to a powerful older man, and her eventual doom. The writing is poetic, evocative, and certainly challenging – which is to be expected from a novelist of Oates’ caliber. Unfortunately, despite the attempt to give the characters an almost mythic stature, the ideas on display are rather pedestrian – and are certainly not helped by the very basic, near-formulaic ...more
Romie
Although the Chappaquiddick incident was before my time, Kennedy hagiography wasn't. Still isn't. That myth of Camelot stuff. I hate it. If I'd moved up to Massachusetts any earlier than I did, Ted Kennedy would have been my senator. Although I am a Democrat and agreed with a lot of the work he did, I don't know that I could have voted for him. I reflexively vote against all Kennedys, always. Because of stuff like Chappaquiddick and its aftermath.

It's a case where there was probably never going
...more
Jennifer
A very long time ago in a distant land known as the 90's, I was working with a woman who also liked to read during her lunch. She asked me if I had any interest in going with her to hear an author she liked go speak. I had never heard of this Joyce Carol Oats woman. (Seriously.) So we went to this huge church in St. Paul and the place was packed. I was surprised - This many people for some author? Hu. Cool. (I know - I was young and pretty darn clueless.)

We were all just sitting there and then
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Cheryl
Joyce Carol Oates, in one hundred-sixty pages, takes readers into the mind of a twenty-six year old woman facing certain death in the depths of BLACK WATER. The car, driven recklessly by a drunken US Senator, leaves the isolated and unfamiliar road while trying to make the ferry. From the first of thirty-two short, intense and beautifully realized chapters, we are strapped in the front seat, shoulder broken, head bleeding, with the air bubble evaporating.

Each chapter revisits the horror in the
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Larry Bassett
In Cold Blood is Truman Capote’s 1965 effort to create the “new” genre of the non-fiction novel, a fictionalized version of a true story. Norman Mailer followed in 1968 with Armies of the Night. Joyce Carol Oates creates this kind of novel regularly. Black Water, published in 1992, is one example. This book is about the Chappaquiddick incident in 1969 in which Ted Kennedy left the scene of an accident, leaving a young woman passenger in his car to die.
Kennedy pleaded guilty to a charge of leav
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Christopher Hong
I appreciate the concept/conceit of this novel: giving a voice to the woman who died in the notorious Chappaquidick accident which briefly engulfed Ted Kennedy's life in scandal. A scandal, which largely sensationalized the life of Mary Jo Kopechne, who died in a car accident whose circumstances are reasonably suspect. But Oates' novel (or what I can recall, having read it in high school), seems less intent on realizing Kopechne's life as it is intent on villainizing Ted Kennedy or rather the ar ...more
helen the bookowl
I was very much in doubt whether I should give this book 3 or 4 stars. I LOVED it but at the same time I felt like it was way too short, and it left me with a jumbled feeling inside.
I think both the storyline and the writing style was what attracted me the most to this story. We follow a 26-year-old girl and her thoughts as she is drowning in a car in the river near Maine. Because of that, the writing style is very much stream-of-consciousness; a writing style that I absolutely love! Some of th
...more
Thompson
This is a fictionalized account of Ted Kennedy and the drowning of Mary Jo Kopechne. Most of the book is the thinking of the fictionalized Mary Jo. Much of the thinking is the confused ramblings of a liberal who substitutes feeling for thinking. This feeling keeps the drowning woman sure that the senator who abandoned her will rescue her. Typical of the lack of real thinking of the drowning liberal is her thinking that the support of abortion by liberals is nobel, but by conservatives is racism. ...more
Alea
“M’è passata tutt ‘a vita annanz all’uocchie. “
Così si dice, dalle parti mie, quando si scampa la morte. Io non lo so, com’è stare per morire (e manco lo voglio sapere).
Però, se è vero quel che si dice, “Acqua nera” è il racconto della vita – “chiazze di amnesia che si allargano nel cervello come vernice bianca rovesciata” - fissato in qualche manciata di minuti negli occhi di una giovane donna che muore.
“Per l’anagrafe lei era Elizabeth Anne Kelleher. (…) Per gli amici era Kelly.”
I pensieri
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Maria Grazia
L'evento fa parte della storia, anche se quasi sicuramente ormai dimenticato. Il fratello più giovane di John e Robert Kennedy, Ted, a suo volta senatore, ebbe in incidente guidando ubriaco, e in questo incidente perse la vita una ragazza, dui cui si disse che fosse la sua segretaria amante.
La storia che scrive la Oats è romanzata, i nomi alterati, ma è facile, per chi ancora ricorda, riconoscere il riferimento.
Tutto il libro è scritto dal punto di vista della protagonista morente, che non riesc
...more
Shawn (ThatOneEnglishGradStudent)
This is such a haunting little novella. I know Oates has a penchant for writing fictionalized versions of real events, and if this book is any indication, I'm very interested in reading more of them. It's easy to see why this book has been so acclaimed: a powerful story of misplaced trust and betrayal written in really tight prose, not a word wasted. In some ways it's a political story, but it's got way more depth than that.

I think the only thing preventing me from giving this five stars is that
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Suzanne Auckerman
This is a fictionalized version of the accident that Ted Kennedy had where the woman died. It is told from the point of view of the woman and the two –-three hours that she spent trapped before she died. I remember being horrified by how he acted and yet time blurred that. I know it was mentioned briefly when he died, but she was really a forgotten person.
TK421
A short trip into the depths of a woman's mind as she slowly drowns. With a political bent, this is a timely novella that barely skims the surface of love, politics, youth, and the possibility of what is in store for a young woman's future.

RECOMMENDED
Sandra
L’episodio che ha ispirato il breve romanzo della Oates è quello del vergognoso incidente di Chappaquiddick avvenuto nel 1969, che segnò la fine della carriera politica del senatore Ted Kennedy.
E’ il 4 luglio, siamo agli inizi del 1990, nel Maine, a Grayling Island. Una Toyota nera, guidata dal Senatore, un uomo di mezza età, donnaiolo e bevitore, che guida con in mano il drink per il viaggio, trasporta lui e la sua nuova amica Kelly, conosciuta ad una festa lo stesso giorno in casa di conoscenz
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Lisa (Harmonybites)
In July of 1969, a car drove off a bridge into the tidal waters of Chappaquiddick in Massachusetts--taking the life of Mary Jo Kopechne and with it the presidential aspirations of Senator Ted Kennedy. A blurb on the back of Black Water from the Los Angeles Times calls the book "the ballad of Chappaquiddick" and even though the internal chronology places this after 1990, in Maine not Massachusetts, the young woman involved is named "Kelly Kelleher" and the driver involved is only called "the Sena ...more
Lisa Rathbun
How do you keep a reader interested in a story that everyone already knows the ending to? The Senator crashes the car into the water; the girl drowns. The only way is to get into the girl's mind. Certain phrases or ideas are repeated in the way one's thoughts continually dwell on a certain subject. In that way it's stream-of-consciousness, but I found it easier to follow than some writing in that style. The girl's life in a sense flashes before your eyes, but not in order from birth to death, bu ...more
Misha
Black Water is a haunting narrative of the final moments of Kelly Kelleher, a young woman whose impulsive decision to pursue her attraction to an older man leads to her death in a car accident. Kelleher, of course, is a stand-in for Mary Jo Kopechne, the young woman who lost her life in a car accident with Ted Kennedy at Chappaquiddick in 1969. I found it interesting that Oates chose to update the story to the early '90s (contemporary for when the book was written) and write The Senator as Kenne ...more
Saleh Ka
این مرور زندگی در لحظههای پیش از مرگ نمیتواند فقط یک واکنش ماشینی و بیلوژیک ساده باشد. واکنشی مثل احساس درد که حاصل واقعیتی بیرونی مثل زخم یا ضربهای ناگهانی است. و باز نمیتواند برای همه انسانها و به طور یکسان شکل بگیرد؛ همانطور که تنها عدهای از افراد عبور کرده و بازگشته از این مرز صاحب این تجربه بودهاند. احتمالا این مرور خاطرات در آن لحظهی مواجهه با مرگ و در آن تنگا آخرین تلاش فرد است برای ادامهی آنچه "زیستن" مینامند. یکجور چنگ زدن به زندگی و نشانههای حیاتی٬ که از خود بیاد داریم. میگردی پی باقیم ...more
Jesse Christiansen
If you don't understand why Joyce Carol Oates is a literary pillar of our times, then you obviously have not read "Black Water." Go, right now, run to your computer, sink your literature-impoverished fingertips into its keys. Now! Before it's too late! If you don't, then you only have yourself to blame, and, the haggard, wrinkled figures that you see in your final thoughts, just may be attending angels in disguise.

There are great books and there are legendary books.

The poetry of the inner world.
...more
Chaitra
This was a wasted exercise. It wasn't offensively bad, but I did not think it was good either. Black Water is inspired by the real life incident of Chappaquiddick. Senator Ted Kennedy drove his car off a bridge and in the accident that resulted, the female passenger Mary Jo Kopechne died. What makes this unlike other accidents is that Senator Kennedy failed to report the accident which almost certainly contributed to her death.

Oates decides to concentrate on the unfortunate female passenger, giv
...more
J.C.
A fascinating yet incredibly depressing novella, i kept getting the idea that the moral of the story is that basically we're all being lied to, that no matter who we look to (I'm speaking about politics here) tends to become self-serving, and will never really represent us. The formation of the story was intriguing, I was very curious while reading it where exactly the story was going, as it seemed to be going backwards. I had to read this for my Modern Fiction class, I am not sure if I ever wou ...more
Paul
This interesting novella is a fictionalized account of the Chappaquiddick incident. My favorite part was when the victim is thinking about the future retelling of present events, which I do all the time- thinking about how you'll look back on things, or how you'll tell others about it, before it's even finished happening.

I had an embarrassing moment while getting this signed by Joyce Carol Oates at the Texas Book Festival yesterday. I told her I was almost but not quite finished with the book, a
...more
R.
Aug 29, 2009 R. rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2009
No connection whatsoever is made to the Doobie Brothers song. As a matter of fact, the only song on the radio is by The Beatles...and keeping with the alteration of facts, JCO refers to it not as "Eleanor Rigby" but as "All the Lonely People". Whether by airplane or car, All-American girls who fall for dangerous Kennedy boys never get far...
Reza Jalali
When You start reading this book you think "Wow! this is good" but it gets boring page by page... the whole idea of this book is good but seriously I couldn't wait to finish it. by the end of every chapter of it I was like "So what?!?" and again when you finish the book you're gonna say "So what?!?"
Gina
I have a shelf devoted to Joyce Carol Oates here on Goodreads so it would be hard for me to not love yet another one of her brutal stream of consciousness offerings and so, of course, I do. This is a veryfastreadinaveryfastcar with a quick but horrific dip in black water that reimagines the terrible events surrounding the accident with Ted Kennedy and Mary Jo Kopechne. It is a story of a sad girl who is everygirl - even her repetitious name of Kelly Kelleher tells us she is no one special it cou ...more
Cooper Cooper
Though Joyce Carol Oates has been for many years a literary lioness, this is the first of her novels I’ve read. It is very powerful. Closely based on the Chappaquiddick incident, it’s about a young woman who at a Fourth of July party meets “The Senator” (aka Ted Kennedy); they hit it off and decide, in the evening, to go to his motel; since they are on an island, they make for the ferry. Running late The Senator, a lot more lit up than the road, tries a shortcut, misses a turn and the car slide ...more
Roberta
Mentre l'acqua nera le riempiva i polmoni, e lei moriva.

Incredibile romanzo breve che ci racconta la storia di una ragazza ventiseienne, seduta in una macchina a fianco di un non meglio specificato Senatore. I due si sono incontrati a una festa per il 04 luglio a casa di un'amica comune in un'isola del Maine, e da lì se ne sono andati in macchina diretti a un ferry che li avrebbe portati, presumibilmente, a una stanza d'albergo. Purtroppo lungo una scorciatoia basta una brutta curva per spedire
...more
Yashar Yashmi
ستاره (از پنج ستاره) : یک ستاره و نیم

باید بگویم، تجربه ی روایت این اثر، یکی از بهترین و جالب ترین تجربه های من در خواندن رمان بود. روایت سریع و منقطع همراه با جمله های معترضه ی فراوان و سبک و آهنگ ضربی داستان، فضایی بسیار جالب را به وجود می آورند (ر.ک مقاله ی پایان کتاب)
[در مورد این سبک روایت بیش تر از پیش باید توضیح دهم. به نظرم نوع روایت، بسیار مدرن است. نویسنده می داند که خواننده ی مدرن، حوصله ی داستان سرایی های داستایوفسکی یا پرداخت شخصیت های شلوخوف را ندارد. بنابراین بهترین راه حل را پیدا
...more
Ryan Heaven
After reading this novella, and beforehand reading her short story 'Heat', I can safely say Joyce Carol Oates is one of the best writers I've come across.
In 'Black Water' we follow Kelly Kelleher, who is involved in a car accident. The car flies off a road into a swamp, and we are stuck with the trapped Kelly as the water begins to rise inside the vehicle. Due to her entrapment, the narrative's progression relies on Kelly's memories and flashbacks, but every detail is necessary. Oates' use of d
...more
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Joyce Carol Oates is a recipient of the National Book Award and the PEN/Malamud Award for Excellence in Short Fiction. She is also the recipient of the 2005 Prix Femina for The Falls. She is the Roger S. Berlind Distinguished Professor of the Humanities at Princeton University, and she has been a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters since 1978. Pseudonyms ... Rosamond Smith and Laure ...more
More about Joyce Carol Oates...
We Were the Mulvaneys The Falls The Gravedigger's Daughter Blonde Foxfire: Confessions of a Girl Gang

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“She wasn't in love but she would love him, if that would save her.” 62 likes
“It makes me angry sometimes, it's a visceral thing--how you come to despise your own words in your ears not because they aren't genuine, but because they are; because you've said them so many times, your 'principles,' your 'ideals'--and so damned little in the world has changed because of them.” 54 likes
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