How to Breathe Underwater: Stories

Front Cover
Alfred A. Knopf, 2003 - Fiction - 226 pages
11 Reviews
Nine fiercely beautiful, impossible-to-put-down stories from a young writer who has already received immediate worldwide attention. Julie Orringer’s characters–all of them submerged by loss, whether of parents or lovers or a viable relationship to the world in general–struggle mightily against the wildly engulfing forces that threaten to overtake us all. All of them learn, gloriously if at great cost, how to breathe underwater.

In “Pilgrims,” a band of motherless children torment each other on Thanksgiving day. In “The Isabel Fish,” the sole survivor of a drowning accident takes up scuba diving. In “When She Is Old and I Am Famous,” a young woman confronts the inscrutable power of her cousin’s beauty (“Ada. That is her terrible name. Ai-ee-duh: two cries of pain and one of stupidity”). In “The Smoothest Way Is Full of Stones,” the failure of religious and moral codes–to protect, to comfort, to offer solace–is seen through the eyes of a group of Orthodox Jewish adolescents discovering the irresistible power of their burgeoning sexuality.

In story after story, Orringer captures moments when the dark contours of the adult world come sharply into focus: Here are young people abandoned to their own devices, thrust too soon into predicaments of insoluble difficulty, and left to fend for themselves against the wide variety of human trouble. Buoyed by the exquisite tenderness of remembered love, they learn to take up residence in this strange new territory, if not to transcend it, and to fashion from their grief new selves, new lives. Orringer’s debut collection blazes with emotion, with human appetite, with fortitude, with despair; these nine uncommonly wise and assured stories introduce an astonishing new talent.

From inside the book

What people are saying - Write a review

User ratings

5 stars
5
4 stars
5
3 stars
1
2 stars
0
1 star
0

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - dchaikin - LibraryThing

46. How to Breathe Underwater : Stories by Julie Orringer published: 2003 format: 226 page trade paperback acquired: borrowed from library read: July 10, 20-23 Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - tandah - LibraryThing

I wonder if there is any such thing as a book of short stories which is uplifting? I hear it's a much more difficult art form than novels, though not as challenging as poetry. 'How to Breathe ... Read full review

Contents

Pilgrims
3
When She Is Old and I Am Famous
23
The Isabel Fish
47
Copyright

5 other sections not shown

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2003)

Julie Orringer is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and Cornell University, and was a Stegner Fellow in the Creative Writing Program at Stanford University. Her stories have appeared in The Paris Review, The Yale Review, Ploughshares, The Pushcart Prize anthology, and Zoetrope: All-Story. She is thirty years old and lives in San Francisco.

Bibliographic information