Excerpt from Water, Carry Me by Thomas Moran, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Water, Carry Me

A Love Story

By Thomas Moran

Water, Carry Me
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • Hardcover: Feb 2000,
    269 pages.
    Paperback: Mar 2001,
    270 pages.

    Publication Information

  • Rate this book


Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt

Chapter One

What if the world turned wrong one day and the deep sea gave up its dead?

What would we of the land's end spy? A hundred thousand pale corpses, bobbing like fishermen's floats in the green swell? Several millions, from chain-mailed Norman lords to the black-clad crews of Spanish galleons, from ladies in silk ballgowns who went down on liners to poor Connacht fishermen swept overboard in the lonely nights by sudden swinging booms? And flaunty yachtsmen, cocksure but capsized by white squalls, the implacable destroyers of pretty boats?

Would the endless waters become a sort of peat bog on which, stepping so carefully, we might walk from here all the way to America? Would the corpses' eyes be open, watching and resentful? Or would they be closed tight as a baby's at the moment of birth?

This isn't a decent vision. It's one I would not have. But it has been with me for years, sometimes asleep and sometimes awake.

The worst ever was the night I was loving my first boy for the first time, my breath going into him and his into me, skin to skin and my skin shimmering with pleasure, when suddenly the thought of the sea giving up its dead came and made me feel like one of the drowned ones, perfectly preserved by the cold and dark, but dead, and senseless. The boy drew away from me.

It was my grandda Rawney Moss's curse, though I doubt he ever knew he put it on me.

On calm nights, when the soft wash of the sea on the shingle of our bay seemed like the whispers of a dream, my grandda told me stories of the ocean's dead. I was little and never doubted the answers to the questions I asked. We lived at the far side of Cobh, seaward from the quay and the lofty dun cathedral that loomed above it, close to where the water met the shore. Cobh is at the head of Cork Harbor. A dark place, Cobh. The coffin ships sailed from there overburdened with convicts for Australia, later with those fleeing the Famine for America. So many never arrived. Only God knows where those rotten hulks packed with ragged, hungry Irish folk and their kids went down. The doomed Titanic made its last landfall at Cobh, then steamed west (and cut north) toward an iceberg that nobody saw until too late. And it's Cobh soil covering most of the eight hundred bodies from the torpedoed Lusitania.

Plenty of ghosts to scare a little girl. Plenty of tales for an old man to tell before the girl drifted into sleep to the droning of his voice and the gentle sweep of waves over the pebbled beach.

My grandda had somewhere acquired the belief that the sea becomes denser and denser under the pressure of its own vast weight the deeper you go. So nothing could ever sink all the way to the bottom in blue water. The lightest wrack from a sunken ship-china plates, ladies' satin slippers, monogrammed tortoiseshell hairbrushes, an infant's silver teething ring-remained forever in a layer at four or five hundred feet down, just where all the light vanishes and the abyssal cold begins. Perhaps a few hundred feet lower was an unstirring mass of all the drowned, little children at the top, women next, and then the heavier men. A thousand feet deeper would be old cannons, cargo crates filled with goods of iron and brass and lead, the hulls of small ships whose backs had been broken by huge waves. Finally, at four thousand feet or so by Rawney's reckoning, there'd be the monstrous wrecks-the Titanic and the Lusitania, the Bismarck and the Hood-frozen in the black cold, held fast by the thickened ocean.

The layers never rose, never fell, never so much as trembled even if Force Ten storms raged above.

And so the bottoms of the great seas were as tidy as a well-scythed hurling field, except that instead of rich green grass there was sand, every grain fixed eternally in its appointed place.

My grandda said ordinary fishermen of the coasts hadn't the nets to trawl at such depths, and would have had a mortal fear of doing that anyway. So the sea hid and preserved the remains of all disasters. But recently, he told me, Jap and Russki factory ships with miles-long nets were going deeper than anyone before, scraping the secret layers. Sometimes even hauling in the wrinkled little bodies of children drowned a hundred years ago, bodies that gleamed whitely amidst the writhing mess of pollock and halibut. The Japs and the Russkis tried to keep this quiet-they were damned high and low for raping the seas as it was-but Rawney had heard what he had heard. "From them that know," he said. They put the children's bodies in weighted canvas bags and sent them down again, to a deeper place than the one from which they'd been so rudely disturbed.

Reprinted from WATER, CARRY ME by Thomas Moran by permission of G. P. Putnam's Sons, a member of Penguin Putnam Inc. Copyright © 1999 by Thomas Moran. All rights reserved. This excerpt, or any parts thereof, may not be reproduced in any form without permission.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!
Member Benefits

Join Now!

Check the advantages!
Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year

    •  
    • FREE
    • MEMBER
    • Range of media reviews for each book
    • Excerpts of all featured books
    • Author bios, interviews and pronunciations
    • Browse by genre
    • Book club discussions
    • Book club advice and reading guides
    • BookBrowse reviews and "beyond the book" back-stories
    •  
    • Reviews of notable books ahead of publication
    •  
    • Free books to read and review (US Only)
    •  
    • Browse for the best books by time period, setting & theme
    •  
    • Read-alike suggestions for thousands of books and authors
    •  
    • 'My Reading List" to keep track of your books
    •  

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Hyde
    Hyde
    by Daniel Levine
    In Robert Louis Stevenson's 1886 novel, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, the story ends ...
  • Book Jacket: Shotgun Lovesongs
    Shotgun Lovesongs
    by Nickolas Butler
    Nickolas Butler's debut novel, Shotgun Lovesongs, follows five life-long friends, now in their mid-...
  • Book Jacket: Gemini
    Gemini
    by Carol Cassella
    How good is Gemini, Carol Cassella's book about a Seattle intensive care physician who becomes ...

First Impressions

Members read and review books ahead
of publication. See what they think
in First Impressions!

Books that
expand your
horizons.

Visitors can view a lot of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only

Find out more.

Book Discussions
Book Jacket

The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry
by Gabrielle Zevin

Published Apr. 2014

Join the discussion!

  1.  254Cartwheel:
    Jennifer duBois
  2.  170The Weight of Blood:
    Laura McHugh

All Discussions

Who Said...

In youth we run into difficulties. In old age difficulties run into us.

Click Here to find out who said this, as well as discovering other famous literary quotes!

Word Play

Solve this clue:

P Your O C

and be entered to win..

Books thatinspire you.Handpicked.

Books you'll stay up all night reading; books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, books that will expand your mind and inspire you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.