How to Breathe Underwater by Julie Orringer

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Nine brave, wise, and spellbinding stories make up this award-winning debut. In "When She is Old and I Am Famous" a young woman confronts the inscrutable power of her cousin's beauty. In "Note to Sixth-Grade Self" a band of popular girls exert their social power over an awkward outcast. In "Isabel Fish" fourteen-year-old Maddy learns to scuba dive in order to mend her family after a terrible accident. Alive with the victories, humiliations, and tragedies of youth, How to Breathe Underwater illuminates this powerful territory with striking grace and intelligence.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

About Julie Orringer

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Julie Orringer is the author of the award-winning short-story collection How to Breathe Underwater, which was a New York Times Notable Book. She is the winner of The Paris Review's Discovery Prize and the recipient of fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, Stanford University, and the Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers at the New York Public Library. She lives in Brooklyn, where she is researching a new novel.
Published December 18, 2007 by Vintage. 226 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction. Fiction

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Kirkus Reviews

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But as convincingly as Orringer is able to travel the strange by-ways of the adolescent mindset, there’s no movement in the story, just the usual onionskin peeling away of memory until the details surrounding the primal crash are revealed.

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The Guardian

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It is to Orringer's credit that this 14-year-old, with her painstaking approach to science, her capacity for forgiveness and her high expectations of herself, also rings absolutely true as a regular teenage girl.

Apr 03 2004 | Read Full Review of How to Breathe Underwater: St...

Entertainment Weekly

Themes of ill mothers, Judaism, and New Orleans (the author's hometown) run through the wry, poignant collection, whose plainly stated physical details are often emotionally evocative: ''I have to run through the snow to catch the bus, and along the way my shoe comes off and I take one cold ...

Sep 12 2003 | Read Full Review of How to Breathe Underwater: St...

Gather Books

Maddy might be the most real character in the book, with her vulnerability and her heartbreaking, unself-conscious goodness.For example, when Sage kills the fish that Maddy has been raising for a science experiment, Maddy doesn’t tell anyone: "no matter what I do to get back at him – burn his roo...

Apr 09 2007 | Read Full Review of How to Breathe Underwater: St...


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Oct 13 2003 | Read Full Review of How to Breathe Underwater: St...

Austin Chronicle

"She'd imagined her mother's organs going through a kind of re-forging," Orringer writes, "a kind of mystical cleansing, after which they'd start their lives again in Helena's body -- her mother's sick breasts becoming Helena's new healthy ones;

Oct 10 2003 | Read Full Review of How to Breathe Underwater: St...


Orringer's writing is redolent with the strange and grotesque, but even her darkest stories are laced with humor and wit—a fusion that makes the sometimes heartbreaking prose worth the read.

Jul 28 2005 | Read Full Review of How to Breathe Underwater: St...

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