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The Seas [Hardcover]

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Item description for The Seas by Samantha Hunt...

A young woman escapes her bleak life in a coastal town and her memories of her father's suicide eleven years earlier by falling in love with Jude, a sailor twice her age with a troubling secret, dreaming of becoming a scientist, and convincing herself that she is a mermaid. A first novel.

Publishers Description
A lovesick and awkward young woman, haunted by the ocean that her father disappeared into years before, convinces herself she is a mermaid to escape her dreary, small town life and find her true identity.
Part modern gothic, part coming-of-age, The Seas explores the gray boundaries between ocean and land, illusion and delusion, desire and reality.

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Item Specifications...

Pages   192
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 1.25" Width: 5.25" Height: 8.25"
Weight:   0.75 lbs.
Binding  Hardcover
Release Date   Nov 8, 2004
Publisher   MacAdam/Cage
ISBN  1931561850  
ISBN13  9781931561853  

Availability  0 units.

More About Samantha Hunt

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! SAMANTHA HUNT is the author of the acclaimed first novel The Seas, which in 2006 won a National Book Foundation award for writers under thirty-five. Her fiction has been published in The New Yorker and McSweeney's. She lives in New York City.

Samantha Hunt currently resides in New York, in the state of New York.

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > General > Contemporary
2Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > General > Literary
3Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > Genre Fiction > Action & Adventure

Reviews - What do customers think about The Seas?

how to write a successful first novel  Jul 27, 2006
Of course, we all measure success in our own strange way. but by my reckoning Samantha Hunt should consider this book a win. If I were only to judge this work on the mood it invokes, I would still rate it a 5. As a matter of fact, I'll give it five stars on mood invocation alone. Ms. Hunt is a witchscribe. And THE SEAS is a potion. I will never forget the look on my own face as I finished this one. My mouth was agape and I found I'd lost control of salivary function and production. I'll need a fresh copy of this one. And Ms. Hunt, if you are listening, I've read all the reviews on this page. You just have to know that some readers are never going to "get it." It's not their fault, or yours. Most assuredly not yours. As for the rest of us, we would like to encourage you to write for us another one.
strange, haunting story for fans of Maine and mermaids  Jan 2, 2006
This slim novel centers around a protagonist who thinks she's a mermaid. Living in a small coastal town in Maine, this book sets up the idea that the girl is either crazy or a mermaid. To enjoy this book you have to accept the author's premise and poetic license that leaves the truth purposely vague.

The author's voice is at times haunting, but at other times, her odd narrative style comes across as forced. This is a quick read, and Hunt's language is beautiful, strange, and provocative. I rated this novel 3 stars mostly for technical reasons. The plot and characterization are somewhat weak (or left purposely vague?) but the language and concept are interesting.
amazing  Sep 29, 2005
this is the best book i've read in a long while. a very quick read. i picked it up and couldnt put it down until i was finished.
The Seas by Samantha Hunt is a washed up, lumbering hodge-podge of various styles and genres that is never able to establish its own reality to bend. Taking place in a town north of somewhere, stacked up a side of a cliff, imprisoned by a sea, whose residents are mostly alcoholics, one girl and her lover, Jude try to escape from this virtual prison. So what if Jude is 15 years older than her, love conquers all, right? Even if the girl thinks she's a mermaid and her father is some kind of spirit who vanished in the sea 11 years ago. The entire novel just comes out as some ramble of a nutcase straining at her straitjacket in some asylum somewhere. Maybe that was the intention. But the problem is that Hunt never establishes any sort of fictional reality against which the strange can happen. The only reality that intrudes here is that Jude is an Iraqi War vet who seems haunted by his experiences there. But this inclusion of the war only seems to suit the author's obivious distaste for our intervention there and seems completely out of place in the fantasy land she wishes to create. The setting itself was overdone. I mean, we are just beat over the head with the prison imagery over and over over. She talks about the town with all the subtlety of a flying mallet. A mood should be set a little more covertly. This novel was not awful, but it is supremely flawed.
bit too random, for every two gems of prose also a rock  Mar 30, 2005
The Seas has in it a wonderful short story, or perhaps better yet a gorgeous poem. But as a novel it suffers somewhat from an overly flat tone, too much randomness, and a number of strained or weak images that divert attention from some of the beautiful prose.
The narrator, a nineteen year old girl living in a tiny coastal town lost her father to the sea when she was eight and now lives with her mother and grandfather (a too conveniently word-ready typesetter). Convinced she's a mermaid, she longs for the town's troubled Iraq War veteran Jude, despite the wide age difference, his alcohol issues (the town as she tells us several times has a problem with alcohol), and his womanizing.
As one might guess from the mermaid, the book meanders between reality and fantasy, blurring the edges repeatedly. The success is hit and miss, at times the fantastic imagery hits home, at other times it seems the product of a writer trying too hard to be fantastic.
The bleakness of tone and setting is both a strength and a weakness. A strength when it is carried through description of the setting and sometimes through the voice (though at times it is thrust upon the reader a bit too obviously), a weakness because it dominates the voice nearly to the exclusion of all other feeling, leaving the novel feeling monotone and flat, making it a difficult read over even its relatively slim length (one reason why this might have worked better as a long short story). The style often seems flat with its first-person narrative that all too often (or at least often enough to be noted and to grow irritating) falls into the same pattern of speech ("I verb . . . I verb . . . I verb . . . He verb . . . He verb").
The sea is wonderfully depicted as an ever-present character--often menacing, sometimes beautiful and otherworldly, sometimes imprisoning. Here again, sometimes the imagery is a bit strained or forced, but less so and the good stuff with regard to the sea is so good that it overwhelms the bad.
There is a lot of wonderful imagery and some truly inventive and gorgeous turns of phrase, but I also found that for every two or three such phrases there was one that simply grated--either the imagery was forced or strained or too obvious or jumbled or it simply didn't seem to work as an idea versus as a neat string of words. Some judicious pruning of those would have made this much stronger.
The main character is nicely portrayed but the others feel a bit flat and the grandfather seemed to me more of a plot device than a character with his convenient job/hobby of typesetting dictionaries that allows him to pull out nicely appropriate words and definitions on a regular basis.
The mix of fairy tale and reality, grittiness and fabulism when it works is quite strong; when it is forced it tends to pull the reader out of the story, forcing them to acknowledge "getting it." And there were times where the two seemed to work against each other, as when she tells us how tiny the town is and yet gives us several instances of unknown people or actions that seem to belie an ignorance of what would have been much-talked-about events.
The book began to drag for me about two-thirds of the way in due to the flat voice and the random vignette nature of the story, and bogged down almost completely when it began to focus more on Jude's story. The ending has a nice center, but like the book as a whole, seemed diluted by too much around it.
The author certainly displays a love and talent for inventive language, enough so that while I didn't much care for The Seas, I'd give a second book a chance (30 to 50 pages or so) to win me over. But as for the Seas, I can't recommend it despite the scattered gems among its pages. Those gems, however, did raise the rating from a two which is what I would usually give a book that didn't maintain my interest or that felt forced so often.

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