Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Water, water, everywhere

Title: Flood Stage and Rising
Author: Jane Varley

First, I must confess that I might be a bit biased about this book. The author is a creative writing professor at the college where I work. She was also my creative writing professor back in undergrad, since I now work at the institution where I went to college.

That said, this book is a really good read. Varley tells about the huge flood in Grand Forks, North Dakota in 1997. Interwoven throughout in alternating chapters she describes various other personal water-related experiences: stories relating to rain, lakes, rivers, the ocean, and floods. As you may be able to guess, water has played a key role in her life.

There are several great things about reading a book written by a person that I know. First of all, I can hear her voice relating parts of the story. Even better is that the story is true, recreated to the best of her memory. As a creative writing professor, Varley's skills with imagery are amazing. I can see the river threatening to overflow the dike in the middle of the night, as its "surface roiled with the blackness of ink" (p. 38). I can feel the cool waters of the mountain-fed stream that Varley swims in. I pedal beside a young Varley as she views a flooded river.

Non-natives of Grand Forks, Varley and her husband feel compelled to help the locals fight the rising waters of the river. They struggle to stack sandbags on top of the dike as the water level grows higher and higher. Working day and night making sandbags and stacking sandbags, they enjoy the mindless repetitive motions as well as the feeling that they are helping out. However, as the floodwaters rise, Varley's husband Gary becomes concerned and suggests that they leave town. They do, and the very next day Varley awakes to the sound of a ringing phone. The river has flooded.

Are all their belongings destroyed? Will they have to start over? To find out, you'll have to read the book.

posted by Kate at 8:05 PM


Blogger Elizabeth said...

Looks interesting! I never read anything by a professor of mine (oh wait, except for my admin prof, who wrote the text book we used and constantly refered to the "brilliant author"), and it sounds like you really got a lot out of knowing her. Cool!

Is this a recent book?

10/31/2006 10:26 PM  
Blogger Kat said...

yes, it's recent, published in 2005. if you want to see if it's in a library near you, here's the worldcat link: Flood Stage and Rising.

There are a lot more copies than I would've thought, so you may not have too much trouble getting a copy.

And yes, I really got a lot out of knowing her. It was in her class that I wrote the only short story I ever finished. Hehe.

10/31/2006 11:58 PM  

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