Deep Salt Water is an intimate memoir about abortion, expressed through the language and imagery of the ocean. By gravitating around a central love story—the reconnection of a couple who’d had an abortion twenty years earlier—the book draws its readers, inexorably, into global themes of loss, time, and creation.
The book is organized as 37 separate pieces, divided into three sections—a structure that mirrors the number of weeks in a full-term pregnancy. Each ‘trimester’ of the book explores the story of my lover and me: our relationship and unwanted pregnancy; the abortion itself; our separation and subsequent reconnection seventeen years later—a rekindling of love which stimulates my effort to come to terms with the abortion and its consequences.
Moving from a place of intense intimacy to an outward focus that engages with the broader world, Deep Salt Water discusses abortion in all its complexity, rejecting polarizing rhetoric in favour of the unfathomable truths that women hold in their bodies.
Praise for Deep Salt Water:
“The most difficult art upholds political principles while questioning the narratives that prop them up. That is exactly what Apostolides does in Deep Salt Water, and the only word I can think to describe it is brave.
Over the course of a now six-book career, Apostolides has established herself as a writer who takes on the most intimate, perverse, and complicated elements of human desire fearlessly and intellectually […]. She has a slightly terrifying ability to ride the most emotionally charged idea to its devastating conclusion.”
—André Forget, Canadian Notes & Queries, Fall 2017
“The inimitable beauty in Marianne Apostolides’s memoir, Deep Salt Water (see recent interview with her here), rises out of its commitment to the metaphor. An elegy to our dying ocean and the aquatic life tethered to it, Deep Salt Water also examines the author’s emotional entanglement with a young lover, the abortion that comes after it, and the seventeen years in-between their first encounter and their last. Though it touches on both topics rather poignantly, Deep Salt Water is neither political nor didactic; rather, it is a text that transcends genre and uses the ocean and the life that exists within it as a lexicon for the necessary act of forgiveness.
—María Isabel Alvarez, Colorado Review
“Deep Salt Water is intimate and sensual, tidal and saline—how can a book be tidal and saline? These words make sense within the environment of the book. Apostolides’s language is not of pristine nature but of the anthropocene, our current geologic age of bleached coral and oceans choking on plastics. In light of man-made climate catastrophe, learning this language takes on added urgency.”
—Jade Colbert, The Globe & Mail, March 10, 2017
“Somehow Apostolides’ attempt to tackle infinite expanse succeeds by way of commingling of sand, seaweed, and scientific fact, reads like a breath of air, or a breeze from an incoming tide. […] We are reminded of the powerful echoes and impacts of a decision made 17 years prior, as though it were an eruptive volcano, or perhaps a crashing tsunami. The cause is unknown and unexpected, but the effect is powerful and lasting.”
—Megan Hamilton, Broken Pencil, Fall 2017
“Whether coming to terms with the abortion she had years ago or recognizing the loss we’ve already witnessed in our oceans and the loss that is still to come, Apostolides acknowledges that grief is an essential part of the human experience when what you have loved is gone. Yet the love that is contained within her words—of the seas, of her unborn child, of the man she connects with so many years later—is the kind of love that is oceans deep.”
—Jenna Gersie, The Goose: A Journal of Arts, Environment and Culture in Canada
Deep Salt Water was listed among the ‘Most Anticipated Books of 2017’ by the Toronto Star and Room magazine; it was also featured in the Spring Preview Issue of Quill & Quire.
Interviews & Readings:
Whether you’re visually, aurally, or textually inclined, this section offers insight into the book’s creation, themes, and aesthetics. Listen to a reading of Deep Salt Water, from BookThug’s group launch in April 2017.