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In Open Water, Maria Flook explores the charged and eerie shoreline of Newport, Rhode Island, where Willis Pratt squanders his days running small cons. But his heart’s not in it—he’s obsessed with fishing boat tragedies from his childhood and with Holly, a pretty new neighbor who is charged with arson.
Their romance is interrupted when Willis is called home to care for his dying step-mother, Rennie, whose biological son wants to place her in a care facility. Willis is determined to guarantee his stepmother the death she desires, but when he arrives, Rennie sees that it is he who needs caring for—Willis quickly gets hooked on her prescription morphine.
This is Maria Flook’s natural ground, a harsh and sensual terrain where family debt and carnal knowledge intersect. A fierce wit and an unrelenting vision earned her first novel, Family Night, a Special Citation from the PEN American/Ernest Hemingway Foundation, and the New York Times praised it for “a spare, subtle, ethereal, and erotic style,” calling her gifts “extravagant and apparent on every page.”
Open Water is a ringing confirmation of Maria Flook’s remarkable talent. Caught up in the novel’s unremitting current, its characters are propelled to a resolution that no one left on shore could have imagined.
“Maria Flook defined the torn-up, pasted-together American family as her territory in her brilliant first novel, Family Night. Her new novel, Open Water, is a black comedy of seaside life. The reader rushes after the disheveled characters who gallop from addiction by suppository to dead parrots, from setting fires to possibilities of homosexual pornography on flypaper, from the strangest truck accident in fiction to a death scene in a tourist cabin. Flook’s vivid and exhilarating writing puts her in the front ranks of new American writers.” —E. Annie Proulx, author of The Shipping News, winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award
“Open Water goes full tilt boogie. What are brakes? This low-life extravaganza, set with perfect irony in Newport sur mer, doesn’t know the meaning of restraint. It’s a wonderful thing to read a nervy, smart writer like Maria Flook bursting with language, novel juxtapositions, music. And with stories. With characters to live them.” —Geoffrey Wolff, author of The Duke of Deception