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The Waters & the Wild
Cover of The Waters & the Wild
The Waters & the Wild
A Novel
Haunted by a past crime and a past lover, a psychoanalyst tries to protect his daughter from his mistakes—but at what cost?

"This dazzling gothic-tinged thriller takes us deep into a labyrinth of secrets, lies, and deceptions."—Dan Chaon, New York Times bestselling author of Ill Will

Daniel Abend is a single parent in New York City, with a successful analysis practice and a comfortable life: an apartment on the Upper West Side, a teenage daughter, a peaceful daily routine. When one of his patients commits suicide, it is a tragedy, but one easily explained: The young woman suffered from depression and drug addiction.
But soon after, Daniel receives an ominous note that makes him question the circumstances surrounding his patient's death. He is provided with a provocative series of clues—a mysterious key, a cryptic poem, a photograph with a chilling message. A few days later, his daughter abruptly disappears.
Daniel is swept into an increasingly desperate search for his daughter, and for the truth—a search that stretches back decades, to when he was a young man living in Paris, falling in love with a woman who would ultimately upend his life. As he is tormented by a steady flow of anonymous letters, Daniel recognizes that he must confront the secrets of his past: There is a debt to be paid, an account to be settled.
Advance praise for The Waters & The Wild
"Elegant, elegiac, enigmatic: three words to describe The Waters & The Wild. DeSales Harrison crafts a series of intricate psychological layers that blur the lines between what is past and present, real and unreal. This is a compelling debut that is equal parts character study and literary labyrinth."—Matthew Pearl, New York Times bestselling author of The Dante Club and The Last Bookaneer
"A cryptic, beguiling puzzle-box of a book, The Waters & The Wild is chilling in its acuity and deep in its sorrows—a mesmeric exploration of guilt in the vein of Vertigo or The Secret History, with the frantic nightmare-logic of a thriller."—David Gilbert, author of & Sons
Haunted by a past crime and a past lover, a psychoanalyst tries to protect his daughter from his mistakes—but at what cost?

"This dazzling gothic-tinged thriller takes us deep into a labyrinth of secrets, lies, and deceptions."—Dan Chaon, New York Times bestselling author of Ill Will

Daniel Abend is a single parent in New York City, with a successful analysis practice and a comfortable life: an apartment on the Upper West Side, a teenage daughter, a peaceful daily routine. When one of his patients commits suicide, it is a tragedy, but one easily explained: The young woman suffered from depression and drug addiction.
But soon after, Daniel receives an ominous note that makes him question the circumstances surrounding his patient's death. He is provided with a provocative series of clues—a mysterious key, a cryptic poem, a photograph with a chilling message. A few days later, his daughter abruptly disappears.
Daniel is swept into an increasingly desperate search for his daughter, and for the truth—a search that stretches back decades, to when he was a young man living in Paris, falling in love with a woman who would ultimately upend his life. As he is tormented by a steady flow of anonymous letters, Daniel recognizes that he must confront the secrets of his past: There is a debt to be paid, an account to be settled.
Advance praise for The Waters & The Wild
"Elegant, elegiac, enigmatic: three words to describe The Waters & The Wild. DeSales Harrison crafts a series of intricate psychological layers that blur the lines between what is past and present, real and unreal. This is a compelling debut that is equal parts character study and literary labyrinth."—Matthew Pearl, New York Times bestselling author of The Dante Club and The Last Bookaneer
"A cryptic, beguiling puzzle-box of a book, The Waters & The Wild is chilling in its acuity and deep in its sorrows—a mesmeric exploration of guilt in the vein of Vertigo or The Secret History, with the frantic nightmare-logic of a thriller."—David Gilbert, author of & Sons
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Excerpts-
  • From the book ONE

    Father, you will not remember me. My name is Daniel Abend.

    Even if you have seen my face, it was only one among the many faces gathered at the funeral of Jessica Burke, and that was three years ago, almost to the day. You do remember Jessica Burke—do you not?—dead of an overdose, the daughter, I believe, of a woman in your congregation. I had not attended your church, nor any church for that matter, in many years. No special claim to grieve had brought me there, beyond the bond between a psychoanalyst and his patient, that unequal, equivocal hold that also holds at bay.

    For two years she had been my patient, my analysand, so I had seen her four times a week, five times even, at the beginning of the treatment. During those years, I had listened to Jessica Burke longer and more attentively than I listened to my daughter, Clementine, suddenly hidden from me in the maelstrom of her adolescence. I believed I knew Jessica Burke well, as well as I knew any of my patients. I believed as many at the funeral seemed also to have believed that she had come to flourish, that she had indeed found a new life. What is more, I am convinced she believed this as well and credited me with having helped her in this. After several failed attempts, Jessica had finally kicked free of the heroin. She had begun to "make art," as she put it, had reenrolled in a life-drawing class she'd stormed out of a year before. She had made an appeal to be reinstated at her college and had begun attending night school courses. She had repaired severed relations with family. I believed she was better, believed she had eluded a danger, and because I believed these things, the news of her death came as something more than a shock.

    I have lost patients before, sometimes gradually, to illness or age, sometimes suddenly, and a young one more than once or twice. And I have known that deep, narrow grief any analyst knows, having peered so long into a soul freed from its contexts, unfolding and growing under the lamp of his attention—only to have the lid shut, the lamp blown out. They say psychoanalysis is a school of limits: the session must end, the treatment must end, because childhood must end, and life. Perhaps so. Even with my youngest patients, I have never felt it impossible that they could die.

    And yet for Jessica I had thought it so, or felt it, even to the moment of taking my seat in a pew, alongside old Itzal, the doorman from my building, whom she had befriended. I had felt it simply, merely, impossible that she could have died—Jessica Burke!—whom I had seen as recently as the previous Friday, who remarked on her new boots as she settled herself on the couch in my office, crossing her ankles as she always did. They were motorcycle boots, the leather stiff and uncreased, so new I could smell it, tannic and fishy, as the session progressed. "I'll have to walk a million blocks," she'd said, "before they stop hurting me." It had been the first time in she didn't know how long she'd gone out and bought new shoes, and where could she walk a million blocks except in the future, a future crowded with plans and appointments, a bustling territory claimed as her own?

    I said that the news of her death had come as something more than a shock. I should have said that it came as something less than one: the shock had yet to arrive. Something detained it, held it in abeyance, perhaps out of pity for me, perhaps savoring in anticipation the bitterness of comprehension once it arrived.

    After the ceremony, three years ago, I had thought to write you, to send you a note. In fact, I went so far as to find your address at the church. What would I have...
About the Author-
  • DeSales Harrison is an Associate Professor of Modern Poetry and acting director of the Program in Creative Writing at Oberlin College. He earned his BA from Yale University, his MA from Johns Hopkins University, and his PhD from Harvard Univer­sity. He studied psychoanalysis at the Institute for Psychoanalytic Training and Research in New York. He is married to the literary critic Laura Baudot, has four children, and spends part of the year near Nevers, France.
Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    January 29, 2018
    When artist Jessica Burke dies of an apparent overdose in her New York City apartment, her psychoanalyst, Daniel Abend, the protagonist of Oberlin professor Harrison’s poignant but ponderous debut, is shocked; he thought she’d turned her life around. Daniel manages to push the matter from his mind—until three years later, when he receives an anonymous package containing proof that Jessica was murdered. He destroys the evidence to avoid becoming involved, but then his 18-year-old daughter, Clementine, goes missing. His mailbox fills with menacing messages suggesting that the sender not only knows Clementine’s whereabouts but also possesses information about Daniel’s past indiscretions and the death of Clementine’s mother. Daniel knows that he must atone for his sins, but how far will he go in order to save his child? After a strong start, the story loses steam. Although the central mystery intrigues, its convoluted denouement frustrates, and Harrison’s fondness for florid prose and philosophical asides slows the pace while obscuring the plot. Agent: Bill Clegg, Clegg Agency.

  • Library Journal

    February 1, 2018

    Daniel Abend, a psychoanalyst and single father living in New York City, pens a confession to a priest he barely knows about an affair years earlier with a woman in Paris, the mother, we are led to believe, of his teenage daughter Clementine. Multiple suicides have begun to trouble the doctor, fears that increase when Clementine, who has begun to ferret out the truth of her past, disappears just as an unknown nemesis threatens vengeance against the family. When enigmatic photos and letters arrive in the mail, Daniel is led via a series of disturbing revelations to an unimaginable conclusion. VERDICT Harrison's debut is more lyrical effusion than taut psychological thriller--poetical self-analysis marked by verbal repetition, endless questions, lengthy rumination, and similes that are sometimes far-fetched ("The road had sought me out, I thought, like a penetrator cable hoisting a downed pilot up through jungle canopy."). Still, patient readers who favor literary mysteries, along the lines of Carol Goodman's The Lake of Dead Languages, will enjoy the effusive language and the plot's tightening web. [See Prepub Alert, 10/16/17.]--Ron Terpening, formerly of Univ. of Arizona, Tucson

    Copyright 2018 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

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