Call Up the Waters
A magnetic debut collection of stories about the daily lives and labors of girls and women in rural America.
In Call Up the Waters, the natural world is an escape hatch, a refuge, a site of work, and an occasional antagonist. In the title story, a devastating drought leads a mother of two deep into the Colorado Rockies in search of water. In “The Handler,” a woman leaves her boyfriend for the New Hampshire woods and fifty-seven sled dogs. A distress call from a boat in Massachusetts Bay compels a mother, in “Sea Women,” to plumb her daughter’s secrets. A girl torn between truth and expectation shows her courage in a funereal performance in “Barn Burning.” And in “Bending the Map,” a woman turns the tables on her obsessive, would-be lover after a powerful storm ravages her canyon home.
The characters in these nine stories—search-and-rescue workers, dog trainers, naturalists, archaeologists, and dowsers—are each fundamentally shaped by the environment in which they live and work. They seek meaning through labor, connection through jobs. But in that searching they often find themselves far from their destination. Familiar landscapes suddenly feel strange. Unfamiliar spaces offer something like hope. Off the map and off the grid, these characters, and their regrets and devotions, are nevertheless immediately, intimately recognizable.
Sharply observant but steadily elegant, textured with empathy and grit, Call Up the Waters marks the arrival of a remarkable new talent.
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Praise and Prizes
“Call Up the Waters is a stunning collection by an extraordinary talent. With great precision, Amber Caron manages to locate the most fragile and painful parts of her characters’ relationships while also pulling in a vivid sense of the external world and all that is beyond the open window or door. These stories are suspenseful, moving, and beautifully written.”
“Amber Caron’s debut signals the arrival of a bright talent to literary short fiction. Her prose sings, and shapes satisfying stories that reveal deeply human truths about labor, gender, and our ineffable connection to the natural world.”
“Amber Caron creates a sobering and nuanced sense of emotional wilderness—a world in which no place is ever entirely sure or safe. This book is cool, assured, unsettling, and gorgeous.”