Moving from the shores of Lake Huron and Lake Erie to the jazz bars of Detroit and Chicago, Of Song and Water is a tale of singlehanded sailors and jazz musicians, of working-class dreams blighted by family duty, personal betrayals, and the untold violence between fathers and sons.
“The power of this beautiful novel stems…from the rich and poignant music that emanates from it, from the ebb and flow between past and present, and from the tide of memories that recount the painful drift of one man.”
“Patterns of dark and light shift and morph like shadows on water…. Love abandoned, violence sustained, guilt, grief, the transcendence of sailing and making music, all play in jazz-like counterpoint. Coulson’s rhapsodic novel progresses from harsh equations of black and white to an exaltation of color.”
—Donna Seaman, Booklist
“The American novel, born from the virgin dream of the pioneers, from a new world where the Immaculate Conception would be the norm, has never ceased to be, since Hawthorne and Melville. In Of Song and Water, which is less a family saga than the story of this beginning, a quest for Eden lost, Joseph Coulson and his pale hero have written one of the American novel’s major chapters.”
—Journal Sud Ouest (Bordeaux)
“The jazz scenes crackle with energy and authority… Coulson moves fluidly between the past and the present, and the novel is ultimately quiet, affecting and redemptive.”