Deep Waters – “The Town that Forgot How to Breathe” by Kenneth J. Harvey
It’s been on my bookshelf for years, and I’d read it before and marveled at it. However, recently upon the realization that I didn’t remember much about it, I decided I revisit this book.
It was every bit as good as I remember.
Kenneth J. Harvey writes like a cross between Stephen King and Tim Burton. This darkly beautiful novel is both terrifying and uplifting as it combines normal, flawed people with the importance of myths and legends in the collective psyche. Just as a Joseph and Robin (a dad and young daughter) arrive for a three week vacation in a small fishing town called Bareneed, things start to get strange. Legendary creatures (including an albino shark and a mermaid) emerge from the water, and the bodies of people lost at sea for years suddenly wash up on shore. Meanwhile, Joseph finds himself attracted to a mysterious neighbor whose daughter may actually have been dead for a while. Residents of Bareneed, meanwhile, are going to the hospital and dying in droves – apparently all forgetting how to breathe. Throw in a elderly woman who sees people’s Auras, and a local man who claims to have been taken away by fairies at a young age, and you’ve got all the makings of a modern allegory.
What are we, as a society, losing out on by ceasing to believe in things like fairy tales and legends due to our dependence on electronics and television? Are we, essentially, smothering ourselves from the very things that keep us alive and inspired and – perhaps – breathing?
Once again, I couldn’t put the book down thanks both to the intricate and layered plot and Harvey’s glorious writing. I’m surprised that “The Town That Forgot How To Breathe” didn’t get a lot more attention, and I’m surprised it hasn’t yet been made into a movie. It’s practically screaming for it. Time will tell if Hollywood sees it my way.
Great book – read it.