Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Carry Me Across the Water” as Want to Read:
Carry Me Across the Water
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Carry Me Across the Water

3.79  ·  Rating details ·  724 Ratings  ·  96 Reviews
A truly gifted short-story writer, Ethan Canin faltered when it came to his second novel, the turgid For Kings and Planets. This time around, though, the author has found an ingenious solution to his problems with the longer form. Carry Me Across the Water is essentially a book of short stories posing as a novel, and here's the surprise--it's pretty effective. The protagon ...more
Paperback, 206 pages
Published 2002 by Bloomsbury Publishing (first published January 1st 2001)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Carry Me Across the Water, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Carry Me Across the Water

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Mark Stevens
Sep 09, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Like drinking straight cream, reading Ethan Canin forces you to slow down. You can’t swallow quickly. You don’t want to. You appreciate the way words coat your brain, the way images want to linger. It’s not as if every sentence is doing back-flips and waving a big flag saying “look at me, look at me.” There’s plenty of good, plain-vanilla prose as well but Canin peppers his stories with the kinds of details that give his stories punch and life. In “Carry Me Across the Water,” the story careens c ...more
Jan 06, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Written by a short story author this novel is basically several short stories woven together in a non-linear fashion that presents the portrait of complicated man showing where he is and how he got there. By taking the advice of no one he falls in love, serves his country, and earns his fortune. In his old age he has lost his wife and finds himself distanced from his children and seems not quite sure what to do with himself but still not willing to let anyone tell him what to do. There were a fe ...more
Sep 05, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
When I started to read this book, I was very prepared to hate it. Friends had recommended it but I just didn't think I would like it. Begrudgingly, I began the book. And I was right, for about 20 pages. Somewhere after that, this man, August, became someone that I wanted to know more about. This is what kept me reading. The short chapters(?) make this easy to read and to keep picking up again and furthermore I wanted to. I surprisingly really enjoyed this book. I rated it three stars because of ...more
Other reviews have mentioned that this is a slight book, and I agree. It's not weighty. Among the innumerable losses suffered by both sides in World War II, one Jewish man (who has fled his country and his father following the rise of Nazism in Germany), is haunted by the one life he took.

It's still worthy, a book of the life and times of August Kleinman, successful millionaire. Some of the best parts of the book are dealing with his interactions with his children, his daughter in law and his g
Nov 24, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Μια ανθρώπινη ιστορία και η πορεία ενός ανθρώπου από τον πάτο στην κορυφή. Σε σημεία συγκινητική, σε άλλα λίγο σκληρότερη και απόλυτα πραγματική. Ήταν ευχάριστη ανατροπή από ένα βιβλίο για το οποίο δεν είχα υψηλές προσδοκίες οφείλω να πω. Η γραφή του Canin στρωτή, ευχάριστη στην ανάγνωση, λόγος καθημερινός που αποφεύγει βαρύγδουπες εκφράσεις. Στο σύνολό του ένα ενδιαφέρον ανάγνωσμα.
LK Hunsaker
Feb 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Another exquisite read from Ethan Canin, one of the current masters of American literary fiction. Self-preservation meshes with a general concern for society, growth, and love. Very highly recommended.
Mar 16, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As a young man, I was not immediately drawn into the world of an old, rich Jew looking back on his life, but as the book progressed, I became involved with the protagonist beyond his demographics. Regardless of the particulars, the power of memory is strong, and really haphazard. No one can ever predict what stimulus in the world will create a travel down memory lane in one's mind. August's life is totally broken up into meaningful vignettes, which I prefer. I think there is a beauty in trying t ...more
Apr 29, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ethan Canin is such a skillfull writer. The book is about a 78 year old Jewish man,a self made tycoon named August, who is remembering certain times of his life, most of which were rather violent. We gradually learn about his past as his memory is stimulated while he is visiting one of his sons and helping to care for his grandson. His past is vibrant, interesting and very touching at times. The parts of the novel where the main character is crawling through a cave in Japanese territory during W ...more
Aug 11, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A Jewish boy flees Germany with his mother, marries an Italian girl, starts a brewery in Pittsburgh, & becomes wealthy but loses touch with his 3 children. After his beloved wife dies, he reflects on his life and especially on his experience killing a Japanese soldier and aspiring artist whose letters he retrieves and only now tries to return to the women they were written to. It's a rich novel about the human condition with an appealingly complex principal character, though the short snippe ...more
Harry Wingfield
Sep 03, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the first book I have read by Ethan Canin, but it won't be the last. I enjoyed the way the narrative went back and forth in time. The characters were not one-dimensional, but rounded out in a way that made them each believable. The story provided insights on aging and finding patterns and closure in a life that is in the later years.
The book was sound, fundamentally, sustaining and building its mild narrative momentum with an easy, limpid prose. Skilled writing, MFA consistency, but nothing to tickle the cells into any sort of rapturous applause.
Aug 31, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Lovely writing style. For a fragmented story style, I expected a larger revelation at the end. Subtle but beautiful.
Nov 20, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: library
beautiful book. am going to see him at a talk tonight, so i read the whole thing last night. short and sweet, and he has a way with beautiful metaphors.
Dec 29, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Lovely little book about a successful Jewish entrepreneur who fled Nazi Germany with his mother at age ten and went on to raise a family in America. Nothing too revelatory or exciting here, just the stuff that makes up a life. Augie is a fantastic character: not perfect, but *so* good; not crazy generous, but surprisingly giving. I found this an easy, diverting read as I negotiated the holiday season and kicked my feet up a few times. Gorgeous stuff.
Betty Burkman
Jul 24, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very human story. Real emotions and feelings of the main character as he goes through his life from boyhood to old age.

The author does an excellent job of taking you through his feelings, hopes dreams, failures , doubts and achievements. It is what life is about and well told.
Beverley Lombardi
Sep 13, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not the usual WW II story. His life is interesting but finding out what happened in the Pacific theatre was what keep my reading. Very good book.
Steve Petherbridge
It took me two weeks to read this book, but, this does not indicate any difficulty that I had reading the book, but, quite the opposite. I was on a personal business/health trip to London and took the book with me. It was an ideal read for the occasion and I really enjoyed it. Ethan Canin is a good story teller and he crafts a tale of an ordinary man here, August Kleinman and the triumphs, trials and tribulations of his life, a life many if us can relate to and empathise with. All lives, in my o ...more
Feb 28, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Started previously and set aside long ago until just the other day; the first 20 pages are difficult to understand. An interesting tale of a Jewish German immigrant coming of age in the U.S. fighting in the Pacific theater and dealing with his wartime actions as told through his old-age recollections. After those torturing first pages, the book is impossible to put down. Like others, I'm a bit disappointed in the ending. I should have read this sooner as it was a worthy read!
Mar 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"Carry Me Across the Water" is really a giant book dealing with shifting time frames and major issues,and a very intimate book dealing with the mundane details and relationships that make up a person's life. Instead of telling the story in a linear fashion, Canin jumps from decade to decade and from experience to experience and interweaves them to create the structure of how a genuine life is lived. We are each influenced by a multitude of experiences, big and small, that make up the person that ...more
Michelle Dickerson
This was my first Ethan Canin, but it will not be my last. This book was beautifully written. The book started a bit slow, but I admired the way Canin chose to tell the story non-linearly. Can't wait to read more.
Sherrie Miranda
Mar 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
5.0 out of 5 stars The story of a man who had a fascinating & love-filled life!
Reviewed By Sherrie Miranda
This review is for: Carry Me Across the Water: A Novel
My book has a different cover from the two on Amazon. I can see why. I thought I was going to be reading a book about a Japanese person, not a book about a young Jewish boy who escapes Nazi Germany!
This is the story of one man's brave, yet often difficult life. August Kleinman's mother saw what was coming, so she left with her son in
Lynne Spreen
Apr 05, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: midlife, boomer-lit
This is a wonderful story of a 78-year-old man looking back on his life while he deals with the changes of the present. August Kleinman made some tough decisions in his life, and he did what had to be done to protect his family and amass a fortune, but now that he's older, he's got time to reflect. And one decision in particular must be resolved before his health fails him.

Like many of his generation, August is a tough, plain-spoken man whose exterior belies his big heart. All his life he's been
Aug 15, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: usa, c21st
It’s a lovely book. August Kleinman is an elderly man, non-religious but Jewish enough for Hitler’s henchman to have killed his father and grandfather in Hamburg in 1933. Two months beforehand, August’s mother had had the presience to leave; her husband would not. Mother and son fled to England, and from there to New York. August changed his name from Gertzmann when his mother remarried, and when the time came, went to war against the Japanese. In his old age, having made a fortune in America, r ...more
Jan 20, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was a little slow in the beginning but I kept with it. Joachim introduced me to Ethan Canin back when we were dating and we used to read his short stories on car trips. I really like Canin's short stories and have only read one other novel. I like how he writes a lot about aging and relationships with family. I really enjoyed this book. It is one of those books that helps you look at your parents in a different light. They had a whole lifetime of experiences before they even had kids a ...more
Grant Trevarthen
Mar 03, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
America during the Second World War, became a safe haven for immigrants from Japan the Philippines and most of all the Jews who came from various parts of Europe escaping Nazi occupation and potential genocide.

In this novel by Ethan Canin, the story deals with young August Kleinman, he and his family flee Hamburg in the 1930's, and arrive in NY's poorer streets. One thing the family hopes to escape the Racism that they had been used to, only to find, it was the same where they were now.
When th
Aug 05, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a beautiful story, and beautifully-written. It’s the story of a young man whose mother took him out of Germany before the Nazis fully took over; she did this against the will of her husband (and his father), but saved his life by bringing him to America.

The story is told as an interwoven set of tales between August Kleinman making a new life as a child, watching his son and daughter-in-law raise their own son, build a business, fight Japan in World War II, and come to grips with the fero
Feb 02, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ethan Canin's "Carry me across the water" is one of the most delightful books I've come across in a while. I could not think of a single thing wrong with it. The book tells the life story of August Kleinman, from his youth in pre-war Germany to his new life in Rockaway Beach, through to his elderly years. The story is not told in a straight line, but through twists and turns in the time and place. Despite the non-linear method of storytelling -- which seems to have become the norm, now that I th ...more
Matt Ward
Mar 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This novel has exquisite pacing. It is very short, but spans three generations and never feels too quick. Each of the threads builds into a tragic, inevitable ending. The built suspense is perfectly executed.

I had serious doubts at first that this could work, because I spent the first third grappling with who was who and how they were related. It is a lot to take in, but by the half-way point, I wouldn't have wanted it any other way.

I liked For Kings and Planets, because it asked the big questi
Jan 02, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
had time to read a book on my real, not virtual, book shelf and picked up Ethan Canin's Carry me Across the Water, a 2001 book from Random House.

August Kleinman has based his life on his mother's advise to "take no one's advice." Together August and his mother escaped Nazi Germany, leaving behind his in-denial father, and forged a new life in Brooklyn. August falls in love, serves in the Pacific theater during WWII, and takes the risk to start his own brewery and makes millions. Now in old age
Nov 08, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a very good short novel about a 78-year-old Jewish immigrant to America who at the end of his life is trying to put to bed some unresolved issues from his past...most notably something that occurred during World War II.

The main character, Augie Kleinman, is very believable and Canin does a good job putting himself into this character's head. I imagine as we age there are lots of unresolved issues that come up and one way or another it's instinctual to try to resolve them before we leave
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • The Naked Heart
  • Flanders
  • Exceptional Clearance
  • Marianne in Chains: Daily Life in the Heart of France During the German Occupation
  • Triage
  • Monkey King
  • A Dangerous Friend
  • Evil Geniuses in a Nutshell
  • Gideon
  • The Revolutionist
  • The Great Alone
  • Good Ol' Snoopy (Peanuts Coronet, #3)
  • The Carnal Prayer Mat
  • The Hidden Flower
  • Roscoe
  • Small Ceremonies
  • Heaven Lake
  • Fires in the Dark
Ethan Canin was born in Ann Arbor, Michigan. He received early encouragement for his writing from a teacher at his prep school, the bestselling author Danielle Steel. A graduate of Stanford University, he received a master's in fine arts from the prestigious Iowa Writers' Workshop before shifting gears to enroll in Harvard Medical School. Canin continued to work as a physician as he wrote and publ ...more
More about Ethan Canin...

Share This Book