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The Watery Part of the World    by Michael Parker order for
Watery Part of the World
by Michael Parker
Order:  USA  Can
Algonquin, 2012 (2011)
Hardcover, Softcover, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Barbara Lingens

Michael Parker has taken two story fragments and woven them together to make a unique whole. In writing that certainly exemplifies the author's statement that 'place, to me, seems so inextricably a part of character ... that separating it is like separating the way a character moves through a novel from the syntax the writer chooses as its vehicle,' the author enables us to experience life on an outer island off the coast of North Carolina in two different time periods.

In 1813, Theodosia Burr is on a ship to meet her father Aaron. This woman, as sophisticated and cultured a person as can be found in the New World, disappears, but rumor has it that she was captured by thieves and saved by a hermit. He, along with a former slave, teaches her how to live off the land and sea.

Generations later, three inhabitants of the same plot of coastal land are all who are left after storms and hurricanes ravage the place. The two female sisters are descendants of Theodosia, and their companion is a taciturn black fellow who can't bring himself to leave the island and who may himself be a descendant of the former slave.

In beautifully allusive prose we learn how painful love can be, how difficult places make for odd relationships and whether change is possible. I loved the Tape Recorders, anthropologists who came to record the local dialect, and what the island trio thought about them. Michael Parker has written a fascinating account of characters literally caught in the winds and tides of change.

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