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Water Street

3.90  ·  Rating details ·  261 ratings  ·  29 reviews
On Water Street, every person has at least two stories to tell. One story that the light of day shines on and the other that lives only in the pitch black of night, the kind of story that a person carries beneath their breastbones for safekeeping. WATER STREET examines the secret lives of neighbours and friends who live on Water Street in a small town in Kentucky. Assured ...more
Paperback, 179 pages
Published February 15th 2005 by Toby Press (first published August 2002)
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Average rating 3.90  · 
Rating details
 ·  261 ratings  ·  29 reviews

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Brown Girl Reading
If you’ve followed me on here for a while you know there are two things I’m not so keen on reading. The first one is series and the second one is short story collections. Now it seems as if I’m turning over a new leaf with the later. Water Street by Crystal Wilkinson is my third attempt at reading them and they seem to be getting better and better. I dare say I’ve been lucky or I just know how to choose a good book. Whatever it is Water Street is a short Water Streetstory collection you must che ...more
Apr 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this short story collection. Crystal moves between time and families, and the writing is very real and at the same time lyrical. It also seems like love and intimacy were a part of all of the stories presented....but then that’s a real reflection on life. We all are seeking love and intimacy, and sometimes it reveals itself perfectly.
Cherise Wolas
I loved this collection of thirteen interlinked lyrical and hard-as-nails stories that all take place in or around a small rural Kentucky town, on and around Water Street, and its nearby environs. Love, loss, crushes, tragedy, race, mental health, family relationships, aging and coming of age, the secrets underlying the lives of these friends and neighbors, in the past and how those pasts affect the present. Each story, told by a first-person narrator begins at a salient point in their lives, as ...more
A linked collection of short stories set in a small Kentucky town. The format works so very well here; brief mentions of characters in one story gain deeper meanings once those characters have their turn in the spotlight, and by the end, the entire project thrums with a level of subtle emotional intensity that'd've been hard to develop and maintain in a novel.

Wilkinson writes with unshowy ease and empathy about the intimate, small-time dramas that shape people's lives, and while these stories of
John Bunyan
Dec 09, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: short-story
Crystal was the teacher in a writing seminar I took, so I come at this with some bias. I probably would not have selected this book if not for that connection. But I'm glad I did. Crystal's writing is a pleasure and she crafts the characters so well. She makes each one unique and evokes their inner secrets and emotions. The stories here are intertwined and I kept thinking I should go back and chart out the characters and connections. Each story does stand alone though and each is engaging and re ...more
I really love this author, and this book did not disappoint. However, I didn't like it as much as Blackberries, Blackberries. I didn't like how some of the stories just ended, and I felt like not enough was given for it to end the way it did. I like the idea of stories from different homes on the same street, and I enjoy how entertwined the character's lives were. Crystal has the ability transport me into someone else's life, even if just for a little while and that is the quality I love most ab ...more
Oct 21, 2018 rated it liked it
I was not a fan of this novel. I can appreciate each short story individually and as it functions as a single narrative. I think my problem stems from a lack of cohesion. Yes, the novel takes place on Water Street. Yes, the characters are mostly connected to each other. Yes, each character has a known story and a hidden story. Yes, the many questions we (as readers) are left with are realistic; after all, we never get all the answers in life, so it makes sense to have these stories with open-end ...more
Nov 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Crystal Wilkinson is one of the finest writers today. She captures a town and its people with keen observations. Particularly loved “Before I Met My Father” and “The Fight.”
David Highton
Apr 17, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A series of short stories with overlapping characters from a small town in Kentucky. Enjoyed it.
How had I never heard of this writer? This is a wonderful collection, juicy, real, and sexy, about family and children and couples in a community on Water Street in a small Kentucky town.
Marie Eldridge
Feb 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Mocha Girl
Oct 20, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Crystal Wilkinson's Water Street is an engaging novel that
transports the reader to a middle-class neighborhood in small town Stanford, Kentucky, USA. The residents are hardworking, law-abiding citizens who go to work, church, pay their taxes, and raise their families to the best of their abilities. In the opening passages of the book, the author mentions that every person has two stories to tell: one story by day and the other by night which is kept near the heart for safekeeping. Wilkinson all
Feb 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
I really liked the book. I felt like I knew the people who lived on Water Street by the time I finished the book.
Mar 13, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: worth-the-read
I had read excerpts of Wilkinson's work in a Kentucky and Appalachian Writers course. She visited our class and told us some stories from her personal life, gave us some insight into her writing, and gave us a short private reading, and she also did a public reading and signing at the local bookstore, which I also attended. I chose to read Water Street before Blackberries, Blackberries mostly because I had read the short piece "In Plain Sight" from this text and had absolutely fallen in love wit ...more
Charles Michael  Fischer
May 29, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Real deal beautiful stuff. These linked stories will sneak up on you, "quiet" and gem-polished on the surface, but always ready to kick you in the gut with an odd, original twist or moment (always organic and honest--never "tricky"). Wilkinson's use of narration is also superb, as many of the stories break the tired workshop maxim, "show, don't tell," by "telling" the rich emotional lives of characters (similar to Anderson in "Winesburg, Ohio," so the comparison made between the two in one of th ...more
T.L. Cooper
Aug 10, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Water Street, Wilkinson’s follow-up to Blackberries, Blackberries, once again sets the reader right in the middle of Kentucky culture. Focusing her short stories on fictional inhabitants of Water Street creates a novel-like feel in the character studies exploring the interconnectedness of the characters of Water Street. Wilkinson’s stories examine human experience without being preachy. Wilkinson again demonstrates the challenges and joys of the human experience through her exquisite use of vern ...more
Mar 29, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: appalachia, 2016
Vibrant stories. I am not always a fan of books with a shattered narrative structure, but this one succeeds at every turn. Wilkinson does a fantastic job of portraying the lives on a particular street in a small town. Each new character feels complete, unique, and engaging. There is not a chapter that falls flat or feels out of place--which is quite a feat! This book went quick for me. Very enjoyable read.
Nov 03, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I usually get bogged down reading a book of short stories , I'll get to a story that makes no sense and ends up in the air and I'm done. Well, not this book, all the stories are wonderful or amazing or shocking. Loved it. I also heard her read at Pitt Bradford the other day and bought her new book, Birds of Opulence which I can't wait to get into. Hope she keeps them coming.
Apr 10, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An affrilachia set of short stories that are all centered around one small community on Water Street. I don't usually like this style of stories but think Wilkinson executed this well. Each chapter really could stand alone on it's own, but is only improved by being in a collection as they all intertwine.
Apr 28, 2012 rated it it was ok
Interesting enough, but not really what I thought it was. I guess that is why I didn't really like it. I found some of the stories interesting, but was frustrated when there wasn't any follow up or continuity through the story.
Jan 13, 2011 rated it liked it
Some of the stories in this collection were realy good; others were not--the text did not flow well.
Feb 05, 2015 rated it liked it
Interesting how the characters and their viewpoints are intertwined, but the ending was lacking something. Still worthwhile.
Diane O'connell
Feb 05, 2016 rated it liked it
Good stories but some how I wanted them connected more.
Sep 22, 2013 rated it really liked it
I really liked this book. The stories were interesting, and the characters well drawn. But I would have liked it better if it had been given an ENDING. :/
Jul 29, 2011 marked it as to-read
03 long list-orange prize
Jan 12, 2013 rated it really liked it
Great short story collection!
Andy Berger
Jan 23, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Just an absolutely gorgeous short-story cycle about the tensions--the hidden contradictions, the grief, the trauma, the heartbreaks, and the sorrow--that animate us and propel our lives forward.
Jan 22, 2013 rated it really liked it
LOVED each an every one of their stories!
cretia simonson
rated it liked it
Apr 02, 2020
rated it it was ok
May 11, 2012
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Crystal Wilkinson was born in Hamilton, Ohio, in 1962 and raised in Indian Creek, Kentucky. Her grandparents, Silas and Christine Wilkinson, took her into their care when she was six weeks old. Often describing herself as a country girl, Wilkinson's work reflects a love and homage to her Appalachian roots. She recalls growing up on her grandparent's farm where her grandfather planted tobacco and c ...more

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“My father had been buried for a month when my mother came back to claim me. She returned as somebody even I didn’t recognize—a spirit barely alive imprisoned in her body, a husk. When we returned home, I mourned as much for the loss of my mother as I did for my father. Even then her shoulders had started to slump in surrender. Her skin had begun to wrinkle.” 0 likes
“But it was long before then that I realized that my mother was no longer there. That she had died with my father. I was a little girl being raised by spirits. In” 0 likes
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