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The Tidewater Tales

3.94 of 5 stars 3.94  ·  rating details  ·  327 ratings  ·  22 reviews
Barth's richest, most joyous novel yet describes a couple's journey on the Chesapeake Bay, a cruise that overflows with stories--of past lives and love, entanglements with the CIA and toxic waste, and inventive brushes with Don Quixote, Odysseus and Scheherazade.
Hardcover, 655 pages
Published June 22nd 1987 by Putnam Adult (first published 1987)
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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
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
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
May 25, 2009 Amy rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  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
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.
Christopher Sutch
Barth's most optimistic, creative, life-affirming novel, a rarity in postmodern fiction. One of my favorites.
Mike Gilbert
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
An absolute feast of language and literary allusion.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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).
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.
Joe Allen
Interesting ode to Chesapeake Bay but intellectually pretentious. Good read but many pages to skip over.
Walter Straus
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...
A follow on from Sabbatical. Excellent.
barth's most engaging novel.
Will Garner
Will Garner marked it as to-read
Jul 30, 2015
Susan Grodsky
Susan Grodsky marked it as to-read
Jul 30, 2015
Gail Lidondici
Gail Lidondici marked it as to-read
Jul 30, 2015
Nancy marked it as to-read
Jul 29, 2015
Ruby Hollyberry
Ruby Hollyberry marked it as to-read
Jul 14, 2015
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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...
The Sot-Weed Factor Lost in the Funhouse The Floating Opera and The End of the Road Giles Goat-Boy Chimera

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