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Sea Above, Sun Below

4.82  ·  Rating details ·  33 ratings  ·  29 reviews
Upside-down lightning, a group of uncouth skydivers, resurrections, a mother's body overtaken by a garden, aquatic telepathy, a peeling snake-priest, and more.

Sea Above, Sun Below is influenced by Western myths, some Greek, some with biblical overtones, resulting in a fusion of fantastic dreams, bizarre yet beautiful nightmares, and multiple narrative threads that form a t
Paperback, 310 pages
Published May 31st 2020 by River Boat Books
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Average rating 4.82  · 
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 ·  33 ratings  ·  29 reviews

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L.S. Popovich
Sea Above, Sun Below by George Salis is a rich and masterful novel. While reading it, from the beginning to end, I never doubted I would rate it five stars. It is a balanced reading experience, told from differing perspectives, chockablock with symbolism and allusion and wordplay.

The descriptions of people, the universe and abstract concepts, are always lyrical and moving. The characters, though isolated in their narrative spheres from other characters, all relate in symbolic ways, interacting l
Janie C.
Feb 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing
An utterly transcendent experience. The physical sails into a fractal fall and splinters into into the grace that surrounds one's oneiric reality. Religious systems envelope souls turned inside out while mythological prisms whisper light into those who feed on weightlessness. The body functions. Will is set free.
David Katzman
Aug 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
While his characters struggle in their own ways to find transcendence in the transient passage of their earthly lives, Salis crafts transcendence in the very language of his poetic novel.

Disclaimer: I was invited to read this book by the publisher to provide a promotional quote. I stand by my review as honest. I wouldn't provide a blurb if I didn't like the book.
Aug 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2020, mist, oneiric
Borrowing generously from both Biblical stories and Greek mythology, George Salis meticulously entwines these ancient narratives with his own contemporary character-driven plotlines, leaping forward and back in time, free of chronological constraints to explore broad themes of love, death, aging, religious beliefs and their attendant transformative effects, and familial drama (often resulting from said religious beliefs). The resulting episodic narrative moves at a rapid pace, generating its own ...more
Chris Via
Dec 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2019, leafbyleaf
Video review:

I also have an introduction in the beautiful corona/samizdat edition of the book: Sea Above, Sun Below
Derrick Simerly
Aug 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
When picking up an author’s debut novel the reader can usually expect to see glimpses of great writing amongst pages of missteps that one can usually chalk up to a young unexperienced writer. There are some cases where the great writing shines through and dwarfs the missteps. I would include novels like The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison, White Teeth by Zadie Smith, Ways of Dying by Zakes Mda, and The Broom of the System by David Foster Wallace in this category of magnificent debuts, but they stil ...more
W.D. Clarke
Feb 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2020
Don't let this book's relative brevity fool you—author Salis has crafted an incredibly dense (in the very best sense of that word) set of interlocking phantasmagorical narratives here, and I found that it was best savoured as a book of polyphonic, thematically-linked prose poetry, for its many apt turns of phrase and deftly illustrated connected vignettes deserve careful consideration.

Other reviewers have justly commented upon the book's innumerable mythological allusions and its calling-to-min
Aug 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Superb, literary novel, highly enjoyable to read. Astonishing for its coherence, complexity, and readability. The novel reads fast and challenges the reader on multiple levels. On a sentence by sentence level, the author has obvious gifts for diction and syntax. He is also extremely well read. Many high profile writers surprise readers when they learn writers say they are too "busy" to read. Here, I encountered many echoes and other marks of influence from favorite authors. With this knowledge, ...more
Rick Harsch
Sep 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
My blurb on George Salis' book:

"Salis' book flung me from the deep ditch of my sorts back into the space where literature is a wonder, where I probably was when I was George's age, where the alembic, that disguise, produces the illusion of writing that is effortlessly fresh and new. Nothing like Celine's JOURNEY TO THE END OF THE NIGHT, SEA ABOVE, SUN BELOW yet provided me the same feeling of discovery, and I was reminded how great writing is sure of itself regardless of its discursions, and I w
Kevin Adams
Aug 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Finished last night. All I can say is that I’m so glad that I was made aware of this book. Truly beautiful, personal and rewarding. And that this is his first book is even more impressive. I’m happy to have an author to follow. Yeah, we’ve read the classics and the masters but how many of them do we see and read from the start of their career. This is one. Read this book!
João Reis
Sep 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An excellent, gripping novel by George Salis. Christian eschatology, Greek myths, skydiving, bullying, defective heart valves and religious weirdos. Quite difficult to put aside.
Even more impressive if one takes into account the fact this novel is Salis's debut and was written at a young age.
Jan 15, 2020 rated it really liked it
George Salis' debut novel Sea Above, Sun Below is above all a profoundly satisfying encounter, and any experienced reader will inevitably marvel at its mythological and symbolic span. Additionally, because of what the reader must indulge in to apprehend its metaphysical master plan, it is one of those novels that take on maximum significance outside of its own pages, the way strange dreams sometimes do when pondered over by the vapid light of day: a newfound outlook on physical reality is introd ...more
David Vardeman
Sep 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a lush and quietly passionate poem of a book. At a young age, Salis has already found his own unique voice, his own remarkably lucid powers of observation. He shows us how strange and lush the material world is because it is the physical representation of the emotional and spiritual yearnings that lead us to push beyond physical boundaries and the illusion of disconnection.
Simon Robs
Dec 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
"Is birth always a fall? Do angels have wings? Can men fly?" These queries are levied early on in Salman Rushdie's fatwa producing novel "The Satanic Verses," but could just as well have come from the pages of first-time novelist George Salis' "Sea Above Sun Bellow" as both books share cross-themes of falling & flying (through the air with and without parachutes), birth origins , rebirth & reincarnation, metamorphosing topsy-turvy world where angels lurk and men push boundaries seen and unseen. ...more
Larry Riley
Sep 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
There are darker parts in Sea Above Sun Below that reminded me of Borges. They are outnumbered by the lighter parts (and by 'light' I mean the sun) that made me think of the science fiction of JG Ballard. Light and darkness are important to this as well as the vast vista of sky as seen in all direction through the eyes of skydivers falling to earth. It's a sensory novel that asks of its readers to open their minds to the eternal......but not just that because as in Borges or in Ballard Sea Above ...more
Garrett Zecker
Feb 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Sea Above, Sun Below is George Salis’ spectacular debut novel that takes a striking existential approach to combining faith, obsession, the razor-thin line between (and permanence of) life and death, and a dreamlike narrative to present the story of a group of young skydivers and their cult-like coterie of followers as they try to decode what this experience of living is all about. What truly makes this piece such a triumph is Salis’ dedication to telling the story through a series of vignettes ...more
Zachary Tanner
Oct 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Five stars for the busty debutante, belle of the ball! Icarus on salvia. Capsized, starry-eyed debut (lacking the outrage of the up-and-coming purple prose Messiah's future work) from George Salis, precocious pariah of the MFA wasteland, Sea Above, Sun Below is a phantasmagorical myth-orgy I once recollected on an airplane, which, remembering the topsy-turvy curiosity of Salistic narration, prompted me to pitch my neck to the side and try to look at the view out my window upside down. The memory ...more
Bhaskar Thakuria
Jul 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: literary-fiction
“We Live in an Upside-down World”

Somewhere more than three-fourth into this wonderfully complex work of fiction the narrative continues thus:

This revelation illuminated the lives of those lightning-afflicted, those followers of a hesitant messiah. How sensible the world became when south was north and north south, when the one thousand and one chosen realized the awful and awesome truth that the sky was replacing the earth. Lightning was the first indicator, originating from bottom-up and boring
Klaus Hauser
Jan 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I read this book because it is a River Boat Book, otherwise it would have passed me right by, as these days I usually read English just for exercise. This one was a lot of exercise. Hypnogogia. The book gave me some. Yet for all its difficult vocabulary, the story was actually quite simple. Maybe because we learn a lot of Greek and Latin in school in Europe. I'm giving the book five stars for the prose. Particularly impressive were short mythological chapters. The chapters that followed the char ...more
Dec 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I had to give myself some breathing space from SEA ABOVE, SUN BELOW before I was able to write something about it, allow it to seep further into my subconscious, to that place where dreams and myths are made, to coalesce into emerging patterns. SEA ABOVE, SUN BELOW is unique in my reading experience, and I have Mr Salis to thank for that. It is a dream, a fable, a mythology.

The imagery is flesh and bone and sinew. Biological. Anatomical. It is a tale of change, spiritual, physical, evolutionary
Kaleigh Dandeneau
Oct 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: own
In a world two steps ahead, just a little to the left, and named as our own, exists the man, the angel, and the fall.

George Salis' novel 'Sea Above, Sun Below' engulfs you into the thoughts, fears, and lives of the complex individuals he has created. For every shaking hand, every nauseous stomach, every crying child, the body responds as the mind. Not a moment passes in which reader is not given new life in the personalities before them. For this, I am intensely thankful. To watch these lives fr
Apr 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Perfection. Highly imaginative. Poetically creative. One of a kind imagination. Reading his wording sounds like a mix of Shakespeare and modern language. Greek myths mixed with the modern world. Symbolism is strong. Five star story.
Erik Martiny
Aug 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
George Salis’s debut novel Sea Above, Sun Below is a real treat, a feast for the mind and a dizzying rollercoaster of a read. It opens with a sky-diving scene that catches your breath. It’s so well written it rivals the opening of Ian McEwan’s Enduring Love, and that’s saying a lot in case you haven’t read the book. Salis’s way with words is so clever and evocative you sometimes feel you’re falling like Alice through an onrush of words.
It’s an example of magic realism at its best, devoid of hand
Barton Smock
Nov 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
In prose that avoids borrowing by way of returning, author George Salis summons verse from those revivals held by the plotless dead and places flowers on the shared grave of gimmick and novelty while shading the pallbearer’s hushed reverence for those beings who pray on land to those on earth. This work, however, is not niche nor is it pastiche, is not fragment nor is it patchwork, is not replacement nor is it erasure. Says our narrator and says his, to herself: If she is invisible, then none wi ...more
Jul 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This novel has a snowball effect that gets more and more satisfying/addicting as the wonderfully-bizarre plot lines start to converge in surprising ways. Salis is an expert at writing a wide range of believable characters, such as a snake-like priest who can never seem to shed his haunting past and a little boy who learns about the pain and beauty that comes from loving in times when love is unable to thrive. With so many moments of the impossible becoming possible, humor, heartbreak, horror, an ...more
Sofie Micklisch
Mar 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book was definitely worth the read! I actually received this book as a Birthday gift. I really enjoyed following the storyline, and it was very well written and poetic throughout the story. There are several references to other works, such as Oedipus Rex, in the book as well as other references some might find familiar. I did like to take my time reading and re-reading certain parts. Most of the story is set in Florida, and and the descriptions are quite accurate. It is a book everyone shou ...more
Kristopher Biernatsky
Jul 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
George Salis is simply a machine. His heavily researched debut novel is among the best I have ever read. Within ten years I can see him becoming regarded as America's greatest living novelist. The novel itself, is as winding and complex as the author, mixing in elements from various mythologies and religions, work and play. It is without doubt the greatest novel of 2019, perhaps the decade.
Jim Meirose
Feb 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Sea Above – Sun Below, by George Salis, is an exploration of the inner and outer lives of a group of seasoned skydivers, preparing for their attempt to break the world record for synchronized sky-diving. This would involve over two hundred individuals, forming a human flower, in mid-air. Sounds pretty frightening—and it is. This group of macho pretenders and wannabe newbies talking tough, share a not-so-thinly veiled underlying fear of the upcoming attempt. This drives each member’s thoughts, wo ...more
Clayton Achterberg
Jan 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing
George Salis’ debut novel is one of the most interesting reads I’ve had in years. There are multiple intertwined stories each being told by a character with a unique perspective, who all have their own tragedies to over come. George wonderfully filled this novel with allusions to mythology and wordplay that always kept me engaged. I found myself wanting more from each character we’re introduced to, each one has a backstory that gives them a real and understandable motive even if the character th ...more
Mar 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)
Shelves: books-i-wrote
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George Salis is the author of Sea Above, Sun Below (corona/samizdat and River Boat Books). His fiction is featured in The Dark, Black Dandy, Zizzle Literary Magazine, Three Crows Magazine, Mad Scientist Magazine, and elsewhere. His criticism has appeared in Isacoustic, Atticus Review, and The Tishman Review, and his science article on the mechanics of natural evil was featured in Skeptic. He is cu ...more

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