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
  • First Published:
    Feb 2000, 269 pages
    Mar 2001, 270 pages

  • Rate this book

Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt

I could see it. It made some sense. I could see the pale dead as easy as a crowd at a fair. I dreamed sometimes I was among them, freezing inside and out, lungs full of sea and salt in my mouth, never changing, never moving in the crushing embrace of the deep.

'Course Rawney Moss had never been to sea in his life, even though he'd spent all of it in a port. The waters frightened him. He never learned to swim. The wettest he got was on hot days when he'd roll his trousers up his dead-white shanks and stand gingerly in the wash and foam that slanted up and down and up and down the beach. He was a railway man, at home with scorched diesel smells and hot engines, shiny big drive wheels and the endless run of twin steel rails through the firm green land. At peace with the deep powerful growls and the click and the clack of steel on steel, mile upon the many miles.

But one day, so many years ago, my grandda came rushing in as I was slicing the soda bread for his supper, full of the news that a drowned man had washed ashore in Cobh. He must show me. He took me by the hand and walked so fast I had to trot to keep up. Twice I stumbled and scraped my knees a bit bloody on the shingle. Less than a mile from our house there was a crowd of fishermen, dockies and a lone Garda clustered around what looked like a bloated blue canvas bag, except that it wasn't all of a piece. Rawney shouldered in, me clutching his trousers the way a scared child will. The fishermen all reeked of wet wool and fish guts. But the body smelt of the clean ocean. Its face looked like unbaked bread, doughy and lumpy. There were red holes where the eyes and nose and lips should have been. Its hands looked like flippers; the fingers were gone.

"That's the doings of the crabs and the lobsters, once a body's near beached," Rawney said, telling everyone what they well knew. "Real gourmets, they are."

"Plug it," the Garda snarled, and Rawney reddened, went tight-lipped and narrow-eyed.

"Foul play can't be ruled out," the policeman announced as four of the fishermen carried the body away. "I'll be wanting yeh all for questioning later."

"Ah Frank, anyone can see he was fishin' and went over," one of the carriers said, not looking back at the Garda. "There's a fuckin' hook through his palm."

"Still, I'll be making my investigations."

"Make 'em up yer bum," Rawney muttered when we were out of earshot.

"That's the sea for yeh," he said to me. "A treacherous evil devilish thing."

I was never afraid of the sea, despite Rawney. I was swimming at five. What I loved was to stroke out fifty yards or so, where it was way over my head, and float on my back, absolutely still, rocked by the swell, my face to the blue sky. I felt I could never sink, that the water would carry me freely and forever so long as I relaxed and let it. How could anyone drown?

It wasn't until I was nearly twelve that I learned my grandda was an ignorant tale-spinner. It was a few plain words spoken by my teacher did it: Water cannot be compressed. Which means that although its pressure increases with depth, water's density does not. It will support no sinking thing. Even an old soup spoon or an oyster shell that slips beneath the waves will make the long, slow journey to the deepest of deeps, though most stuff will be crushed on the way. The ocean floors are littered like a town tip. Masts, engines, belt buckles, sailors' knives, sextants, nails, cases of wine, hogsheads of pickled herring, helms, keels, rudders. And dining chairs and cocktail tables from luxury steamers, cleats and winches and anchors from humbler craft.

But never a body, never a trace of flesh. People don't reach the bottom because they are devoured on the way down-first nibbled by eels and crabs and small fish, then dismembered in chunks by blue tuna, swordfish, big cod. And sharks in certain waters. Think of that the next time you're sprinkling salt and malt vinegar on your paper cone of fish and chips. I always do.

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!

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member
and discover your next great read!

Join Today!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Of Arms and Artists
    Of Arms and Artists
    by Paul Staiti
    In the late eighteenth-century, the United States of America was still an emerging country, ...
  • Book Jacket: So Say the Fallen
    So Say the Fallen
    by Stuart Neville
    Noir crime fiction – Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett anyone? – is an American invention...
  • Book Jacket: The Mothers
    The Mothers
    by Brit Bennett
    Every now and then the publishing industry gushes about a young author destined to become the next ...
Book Discussions
Book Jacket
The Bone Tree
by Greg Iles

An epic trilogy of blood and race, family and justice.

About the book
Join the discussion!

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    North of Crazy
    by Neltje

    The remarkable life of a woman who carves her own singular path.

    Read Member Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    News of the World
    by Paulette Jiles

    Exquisitely rendered and morally complex--a brilliant work of historical fiction.

    Read Member Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    Cruel Beautiful World
    by Caroline Leavitt

    A fast moving page-turner about the naiveté of youth and the malignity of power.

    Read Member Reviews

Win this book!
Win The World of Poldark

Win the book & DVD

Enter to win The World of Poldark and the full first series on DVD.


Word Play

Solve this clue:

One S D N M A S

and be entered to win..

Books that     

 & enlighten

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

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.


Free Weekly Newsletter

Keep up with what's happening in the world of books:
Reviews, previews, interviews and more!

Spam Free: Your email is never shared with anyone; opt out any time.