Water Music Paperback – Deckle Edge, Jun 27 2006
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"Water Music does for fiction what Raiders of the Lost Ark did for film. . . . Boyle is an adept plotter, a crazed humorist, and a fierce describer." —The Boston Globe
"High comic fiction . . . Boyle is a writer of considerable talent. He pulls off his most implausible inventions with wit, a perfect sense of timing, and his considerable linguistic gifts." —The Washington Post
About the Author
James R. Kincaid, Aerol Arnold Professor of English at the University of Southern California, is a widely recognized authority on Victorian literature and culture.
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Top Customer Reviews
Water Music is a wonderful book, the kind of book that takes hold of you and sucks you into its world, making you think and dream of Africa. Someone compared it to the Indiana Jones movies and it's really this kind of story, moving from one desperate situation to the next. It reads like a movie script at times, albeit one for at least five movies. Boyle never forgets his characters, though, which are wonderfully detailed and interesting. I loved the dry humour of the book, even though at times the calamities the main characters got into seemed to be a bit too much.
Even though Boyle deflects criticism at the very beginning, claiming he changed historic facts as wished to, this only rarely leads to errors I could catch (but Africans giving the finger in 1800 I coudn't quite imagine).
As in other books of Boyle (Riven Rock comes to mind), I didn't like the ending much. Maybe it's because I cared too much about the characaters not to have every fate explained (I don't like it when fascinating characters simply disappear from view). For the ending provided, I agree to the other readers claiming that the last 100 pages build up to something they don't deliver (a feeling I got at the majority of Boyle's short stories, too). But it's an engrossing book nonetheless and I would recommend it to everyone preferring their adventure stories to have some finesse.
But because the majority of the book is so good, and because by the time the story starts to go lame the key plot line is really finished, I still highly recommend it. Boyles command of language and vocabulary is especially noteworthy, and he raises some good questions about the nature of exploration, cultural perceptions and what we perceive as civilized - or uncivilized - societies...with a dose of sex, drugs and clarinet music thrown in for good measure.
(Note: written twenty years ago, it's also interesting to consider his depiction of Muslim peoples in light of the situation in the US, Middle East and Africa the last few years.)
In 1795 the Scotsman Mungo Park (1771-1806) went to Africa to explore the Niger, a river no European had ever seen. Upon arriving in present-day Gambia, he went 200 miles up the Gambia River to the trading station at Pisania and then traveled east into unexplored territory. In 1796 he reached the Niger River at the town of Segu and traveled 80 miles downstream before his supplies were exhausted and he had to turn back. He returned to Africa in 1805, intending to explore the Niger from Segu to its mouth. His expedition was attacked at Bussa, and Park was drowned. Dedicating the book to the (fictive) Raconteurs' Club, master storyteller T.C. Boyle has concocted an ingenious narrative. At first he spins numerous strands, weaving them into an intricate exotic literary tapestry, as the tale progresses. In fact, the 104 chapters can be read as short stories in their own right. Their titles are sometimes alluding to literary masterpieces by such figures as Ivan Turgeniev, Joseph Conrad and Langston Hughes.
Boyle's story starts in the year 1795. Mungo Park is held hostage by Ali Ibn Fatoudi, the Emir of Ludamar, one of the inland Muslim principalities in what is now the Sahel. A protégé Joseph Banks, erstwhile companion of Captain Cook on his circumnavigation of the globe and now President of the Royal Society and Director of the African Association for Promoting Exploration, Park, a former surgeon on an East India merchantman, has been selected to lead the first expedition in search of the river Niger.
Mungo's guide and interpreter is the intriguing Johnson a.k.a. Katunga Oyo.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
While I've enjoyed all of the Boyle novels I've read, this one is a real gem. Fans of T.C. Boyle know he loves to juxtapose the clash of cultures between characters from radically... Read morePublished on Jan. 31 2004 by Donald Merriam
This novel is still T. Coraghessan Boyle's triumph! Read it and be stunned..Published on Jan. 22 2003 by J.A.B.
this book totally rocks. funny AND intellectual? you bet. it can't be beat.Published on June 25 2002
Boyle is an excellent story teller, and "Water Music" is a terrific read. The narrative flows along at quite a clip as the plot ricochets between characters. Read morePublished on Aug. 15 2001
This is a difficult book to classify, because it contains at least two distinct parts, and I do not here refer to the paralleled stories of Ned Rise and Mungo Park. Read morePublished on April 10 2001 by Conrad Risher
If someone asks me whether they should read this book or not i will have two things to say to them: if you are interested in history, read this book; if you are interested in... Read morePublished on Feb. 25 2001
Boyle is most definitely a writer for the present -- trendy, snide, clever, precious, and sounding as if he'd just graduated from some foul Master of Fine Arts in Writing program. Read morePublished on Jan. 20 2001
TC Boyle challenges the reader to "hold on" through the chapters as you race along the rivers and lives of this story. I was enchanted, humored. Read morePublished on Nov. 17 1999 by jmh