Visits from the Drowned Girl by Steven Sherrill
A Novel

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Synopsis

Benny Poteat is, among other things, a tower jockey, his life defined by up or down. Working hundreds of feet in the air repairing tension lines and replacing burned-out lightbulbs, he observes the world from above.

Benny has seen a lot of things from this vantage point, but nothing can compare to watching a girl die. She approaches the river that snakes far below him, sets up a video camera, and walks purposefully into the rushing water, never to reappear. Startled at both what he’s witnessed and his inability to prevent it, Benny hurries down the tower to the scene of her death. What he does next will forever alter the course of his life: He does nothing. He gathers up the drowned girl’s belongings and doesn’t tell a soul what he saw.

Instead, Benny visits the address on a business card he finds in the drowned girl’s bag and slowly insinuates himself into the life she once lived. But even as he immerses himself in her world, he wonders: What does it mean to watch someone die? And what can explain his strange attraction to the drowned girl?

Through a labyrinth of rationalization and denial, Benny struggles to figure out who to tell and what to do, until it becomes not only impractical but truly impossible for him to ever reveal his secret, the burden of which soon becomes unbearable.

Visits from the Drowned Girl is a tale about the seductive but ultimately pernicious nature of secrecy. We are all voyeurs, to one degree or another. The question is, at what point do we become responsible for the things we see?
 

About Steven Sherrill

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STEVEN SHERRILL is an assistant professor of English at Penn State Altoona. He earned an MFA in poetry from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and received a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship for Fiction in 2002. His poems and stories have appeared in The Best American Poetry, The Kenyon Review, River Styx, and The Georgia Review, among others. He is the author of The Minotaur Takes a Cigarette Break. He lives in Pennsylvania.
 
Published December 1, 2012 by Argo-Navis. 276 pages
Genres: Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Literature & Fiction. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Visits from the Drowned Girl

The New York Times

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He watches the videos (strange and disturbing autobiographical student films made by the drowned woman) over a period of time, rather than all at once, for reasons ''subconscious'' and ''nonnegotiable.'' He woos and sleeps with the drowned woman's sister, Rebecca, a midget whom Benny finds altern...

Jun 13 2004 | Read Full Review of Visits from the Drowned Girl:...

The Guardian

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Visits From the Drowned Girl by Steven Sherrill 329pp, Canongate, £10.99 Like his first novel, The Minotaur Takes a Cigarette Break, Steven Sherrill's Visits from the Drowned Girl is centrally informed by the alienated perspective of its protagonist.

Jun 19 2004 | Read Full Review of Visits from the Drowned Girl:...

Publishers Weekly

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As he delves into her life, the woman—a preacher's daughter turned avant-garde video artiste—becomes an embodiment of the social contradictions of Buffalo Shoals and a touchstone for Benny's own lonely sense of being an ineffectual observer of life.

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