Grove Press
Grove Press
Grove Press

Up Through the Water

by Darcey Steinke

“Beautifully written . . . a seamless and almost instinctive prose that often reads more like poetry than fiction.” –Robert Olmstead, The New York Times Book Review

  • Imprint Grove Paperback
  • Page Count 176
  • Publication Date October 20, 2000
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8021-3734-0
  • Dimensions 5.5" x 8.25"
  • US List Price $12.00

About The Book

The first novel from the acclaimed author of Suicide Blonde and Jesus Saves, Up Through the Water is an unusually assured and lyrical debut. Set on an island resort town in North Carolina, it tells of summer people and islanders, mothers and sons, women and men, love and its dangers. It is the story of Emily, a woman free as the waves she swims in every day, of the man who wants to clip her wings, of her son and the summer that he will become a man. George Garrett called it “clean-cut, lean-lined, quickly moving, and audacious . . . [Steinke is] compassionate without sentimentality, romantic without false feelings, and clearly and extravagantly gifted.”

Tags Literary


“The sensuous lure of summer—from primal, enveloping ocean water to the warm touch of the sun—is vividly evoked in this first novel.”—Los Angeles Times Book Review

“Beautifully written . . . a seamless and almost instinctive prose that often reads more like poetry than fiction.”—Robert Olmstead, The New York Times Book Review

“Dazzling and charged . . . Darcey Steinke has the sensuous and precise visions of female and male, and of the light and dark as the edge of the sea.”—John Casey

“With Up Through the Water Darcey Steinke announces herself as a fine fiction writer who also has a poet’s touch; this novel is remarkable for a number of things, but perhaps most of all for the originality and delicacy of its imagery, and for the intensity of its frequent lyrical moment. There’s a strong and interesting story here, but the language that carries the reader is stronger still.”—Madison Smartt Bell

Up Through the Water by Darcey Steinke details one sensuous, beachy summer. . . . Like summer-island life itself, Up Through the Water has a meandering, languid pace. One reads this book sentences by sentence, marveling at Steinke’s imagistic competence . . . she has sought to portray characters looking up, out, beyond the confines of self and circumstance.”—Marianne Gingher, The Washington Post Book World

“The familiar materials of the novel are as fresh as a breeze off the ocean in Darcey Steinke’s treatment. The book can be read in a couple of hours, but it lingers like memories.”—William L. Tazewell, Virginian-Pilot and Ledger-Star

“So apt that you feel the sand in your shorts by page 162 . . . filled with significant little whispers that echo as if from a shell . . . [Emily’s] nature unrolls as slowly as a breeze might sway bindweed, and develops as quietly and surely as that of Raskolnikov in Crime and Punishment or of the antagonist of Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter. . . . Wise swimmers will dive in here.”—George Myers, Jr., The Columbus Dispatch

“A precise evocation of place . . . a gifted stylist . . . Ocracoke Island springs into sharp focus. The reader smells the sea, feels the grit of sand, almost squints against the glint of sun on water. . . . Vigorous characters that we cannot help but care about, doing interesting things in a place that is vivid and distinctive.”—Chauncey Mabe, Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel

“[A] poetic first novel . . . Steinke’s imagery is at once vivid and delicate. . . . An intriguing debut that hits at promising work to come.”—Publishers Weekly

Up Through the Water is beautifully done, a startlingly good debut.”—The Washingtonian

Up Through the Water is a wonderful book—fresh, vital, filled with characters whom you want to remember. The writing is poetic, the images new and invigorating.”—Ben Greer

“A novelist with a poet’s eye.”—Lex Alexander, Greensboro News & Record