So I’ve rounded up a few recent ones. Now I just need to get my father in front of a computer.
These recent reviews of Sea Creatures are pretty dreamy, from an author’s perspective — great reviews aren’t just lavish praise (though, hey, that’s a kick) but thoughtful, close examinations of the choices the writer has made on the page. I’m so grateful to these recent reviewers (and others, but I’m just not the regular blogger I should be — apologies to any I’ve not highlighted here!):
From Susan Day, writing (at length) for Wisconsin People & Ideas Magazine, for whom I’ll be judging a fiction contest early next year:
“While a few real ocean dwellers make notable appearances, caught and struggling against human-made snares, the sea creatures we encounter are largely mythic creations of the characters’ making. Imagined and re-imagined, they represent stories of beauty or terror or wonder as needed—to fill “the thunderous void” of absence—by the strange humans who make their home in a world where they are not equipped to survive.
Sea Creatures is an exploration of the fragile structures people build for solace, protection, and desire, and the ways in which these structures must weather the storms of consequence and tragedy. The novel could easily dwell in regret and guilt; the grownups all have reason enough. Yet Sea Creatures is more interested in the deep and complex connections of family as well as the ways in which we bear the returning tide of loss.”
From the always smart and relevant essay and fiction writer Roxane Gay, whose novel UNTAMED STATE is out next year:
“Susanna Daniel is a beautiful writer, one of my favorites. She composes sentences elegantly, thoughtfully, with a delicate attention to detail. . . One of my favorite things about Daniel’s writing, and this truly shines in Sea Creatures, is how she tells a story completely. This is not to say the reader will get everything they want but we are not left with nagging questions. Because she has committed to telling a story, Daniel tells the story. This sense of completeness becomes almost unbearable in Sea Creatures but as a whole, the novel is so masterful, the burden becomes light.”
And for the Star Tribune’s picks for top books of the year, Meganne Fabrega chose SEA CREATURES.
“In Susanna Daniel’s novel “Sea Creatures” (Harper, $25.99), a family valiantly struggles to stay together under the looming shadow of a natural, and domestic, disaster. Daniel deftly navigates the reader through a stormy sea of emotions, as she blurs the edges between dreams and reality under the hot Miami sun.”
This baby is just certain he can find something better in this large and amply stocked bookstore. Goodnight, Moon, perhaps? Can we get a Goodnight Goodnight, Construction Site? Come on, Mama.
But Amazon.com begs to differ! Sea Creatures has followed in Stiltsville’s footsteps by being named an Amazon Editors’ Top Picks for the Best Books of August.
It’s the day before Sea Creatures makes its way into the world, and I am much obliged to many people, including these reviewers who gave my little book press before it even hit the shelves.
There’s a charmer at the heart of “Sea Creatures,” and it’s not the novel’s narrator, Georgia, who is plenty likable in her own admittedly stumbling, searching way.
It’s her 3-year-old son, Frankie, whose refusal to talk has begun to weigh on Georgia’s marriage to the boy’s father, Graham. It weighs on the reader, too, as Frankie is recognizably bright, playful and inquisitive, but never quite ready to connect verbally.
This is Susanna Daniel’s second novel after her first, “Stiltsville,” won the PEN/Bingham Prize for outstanding debut fiction. In “Sea Creatures,” she returns to the waters around Miami, including Stiltsville, the odd, somewhat forlorn outcropping of homes on pilings in Biscayne Bay.[Read the full review.]
And from Gina Webb, this great review of Sea Creatures made it into Sunday’s Atlanta Journal-Constitution:
Florida native Susanna Daniel (Stiltsville) returns to the watery world of her first book with the story of a young mother navigating the responsibilities and risks of parenthood.
In the summer of 1992, Georgia Quillian, her husband Graham, and three-year-old Frankie moved from Illinois to make a fresh start in her hometown of Coral Gables, Fla. Eight years later, Georgia relives that summer, and in the course of Sea Creatures (Harper, $25.99), the events that led up to it.[Read the full review on Gina’s website.]
It will end too soon, but you’ll tear through this utterly enthralling novel anyway. You won’t be able to help yourself. The plot sounds fanciful: While living on a Miami houseboat with her husband, who can’t sleep, and their young son, who can’t or won’t speak, a woman takes a job with a mysteriously reclusive artist. But the story is very real—it’s about love, loss, and longing in their most familiar forms. Brace yourself: you’ll fall hard for the characters, and your heart will break preemptively—even before the hurricane blows through.
Sandee Suitt wrote this lovely piece for the Daily News Journal:
“Sea Creatures” is perfect for summer reading, a more literary offering than your usual beach fare. Author Susanna Daniel crafts beautiful, dreamy descriptions of ocean life that threaten to lull readers into a sense of complacency. But as her characters find their motives and rationalizations stripped away by a vicious undertow, Daniel’s clever writing style reflects the tension with the gently, lapping waves giving way to rushing, swirling, crashing walls of water.[Read the full review.]
Last but not least, I was *thrilled* to be featured last week in Madison’s own Isthmus alongside Madison debut author Kelly Harms, whose debut novel The Good Luck Girls of Shipwreck Lane came out earlier this month. A big thank-you to Jennifer A. Smith, for her coverage of Sea Creatures *and* for this feature she wrote about mine and Michelle’s brand-spanking-new writing workshop, the Madison Writers’ Studio.
I’m so grateful, too, to my talented friend Ryan Murphy, who took my fancy official photos — photos that make me happy each time they’re posted or printed. Considering that he’s also taken the best photographs I own of both of my children, I really don’t know what I would do without him!
SEA CREATURES wormed into the pages of the New York Times this weekend via the coattails of my talented and big-heartened friend, Curtis Sittenfeld, with whom I linked arms on our first day of graduate school and never let go.
Curtis’ new book, SISTERLAND, is a highly engaging story of sisterhood, the unexplainable, marriage, and motherhood, and you should all read it post haste.
In the Times’ Book Review’s By the Book feature this week, Curtis calls SEA CREATURES “an intelligent page-turner (that is, the dream combination) about, among other things, South Florida, art, insomnia and marriage.”
Sea Creatures is seeing a lot of good press as its pub date nears (July 30! Eek!). To celebrate its birthday, we’re having a party at the High Noon Saloon here in Madison. Please contact me if you’d like to take part!
In the time-honored tradition of comparing books to human babies, I’m thrilled to announce the arrival of two newborns into my life.
First, my new novel, SEA CREATURES, set in South Florida during the summer of 1992, about a woman who ultimately must face the unthinkable choice between her husband and young son, sold to HarperCollins last month! It’s due out in the summer of 2013. I’m so happy to continue working with my terrific editor and the entire Harper team.
Second, my family welcomed a [human] baby boy to the family on March 2. He sleeps a lot. We’re learning more about him every day.