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by Heather Sellers
Sarabande Books, 2001
Review by Christian Perring, Ph.D. on Jun 13th 2002

Georgia Under Water

Georgia Under Water is a set of stories about a girl, her younger brother and her warring parents, through her teen years.  The early chapters are rich with emotional chaos and Georgia’s growing sexuality; her relationship with her irresponsible father is especially troubling as she yearns for his approval. Heather Sellers manages to capture a sense of crisis and sensuality in her increasingly fragmented narrative, but as a novel, this book is hard work for the reader.  Her style is rather studied, and given the sense that she has attended too many writers’ workshops.  For example, here’s a paragraph describing herself as a young teen:

My knees weren’t knobs any more.  My knees were lush transitions.  My thighs shone golden-brown; my shins, paler, but long and strong.  My ankles were slim, bony in a fetching way, my feet suddenly inches too long for my slaps and sandals.  My hair swing in a shiny curtain behind me; my legs were in constant motion, counterpoint.

So parts of the book are compelling, especially those that confront Georgia’s sexuality and her relationship to the men in her life, but as a whole, it is far less successful.  It’s hard to pin down exactly what spoils the promise in the writing, but I suspect it’s something to do with the fragmentary nature of the collection of stories, and the lack of development of the relationship with her mother.  I get the sense that Sellers talents are more suited to short stories than they are to the longer form novel. 

 

© 2002 Christian Perring. First Serial Rights.

Christian Perring, Ph.D., is Chair of the Philosophy Department at Dowling College, Long Island. He is editor of Metapsychology Online Review. His main research is on philosophical issues in psychiatry. He is especially interested in exploring how philosophers can play a greater role in public life, and he is keen to help foster communication between philosophers, mental health professionals, and the general public.