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Flat Water Tuesday

A Novel

Ron Irwin

St. Martin's Griffin

A stunning saga of love, sport, and buried secrets

Rob Carrey is a successful documentary filmmaker who has returned from a shoot to New York City, where he’s prepared to separate from Carolyn, his long-time love. But when he finds an invitation to his boarding school reunion in his pile of mail, Rob begins a painful journey into his past—one that will alter the course of his life forever.

Years ago, Rob was a scholarship student at the elite Fenton School, where he became a star member of the rowing team. Generations of Fenton men had led the rowing team, known as the God Four, to victory—and Rob would be no exception. But as the team’s most important race drew near, and tempers and lusts reached the boiling point, Rob found himself in a dilemma: If he sacrifices everything to win he stands to lose everything that matters. Which is the right path—and where will it lead him and the ones he loves? That is the question at the heart of Ron Irwin's Flat Water Tuesday, a deeply affecting novel about what it means to fight for love and victory, in sport and in life.

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1.
 
 
My fragile rowing shell was moving fast and light down the river. It surged forward, then coasted while I recoiled for another stroke. I felt the pull of the sculls in my legs, then in my back. I heard only the splashing and the zing of the water dripping from the blades as I slipped by the ancient school. The endless lawns to starboard turned into soccer fields and then into the practice football field. The freshly painted goalposts marked the end of my practice session, and passing them I tasted my speed, closed my eyes and inhaled it, the vibrations of the boat in my
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REVIEWS

Praise for Flat Water Tuesday

“All you ever wanted to know about the world of competitive rowing is contained in the pages of Ron Irwin's new novel, whose hero is not only a prodigious oarsman but the lover of two memorably realized women.”—J.M. Coetzee

Flat Water Tuesday is the best debut novel I've read this year, a compulsively readable dark drama that weaves multiple storylines toward one marvelous denouement. Ron Irwin writes with confidence and skill and authenticity in this exploration of identity and the poisonous fuel of ambition. It will call other books -- A Separate Peace, The Art of Fielding -- to mind but stands alone as an original and powerful work. I'll read anything Irwin writes after this.”—Michael Koryta, New York Times bestselling author of The Prophet

“Irwin debuts with movingly rendered literary fiction about love and loss, youth and maturity, ambition and its cost...a powerful study of the muddled, stumbling steps from youth into adulthood...Irwin's descriptions are observant and intimate—readers become immersed in the Darwinian cruelty of the young reflected against the loneliness of a lost, jaded teacher, then confront a man finding purpose, and close the book after bathing in a deeply evocative, hope-filled conclusion. An elegy to love and loss and reconciliation.”—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“In Ron Irwin's capable hands, past and present fuse into a haunting meditation on class, guilt, and the perils of victory.  You don't need to have set foot in a scull to be swept along by this affecting book.  Flat Water Tuesday is the debut of a deft and talented new voice.”—Eric Puchner, author of Pen/Faulkner Award finalist Model Home

“With echoes of A Separate Peace, Ron Irwin's wonderful Flat Water Tuesday is a masterful coming of age story about making one's place in the world, about the sacrifices love asks of us and of the rewards it may give us, about friendship and responsibility and so many other aspects of being human. It's compelling, moving and often heart-breaking -- all of the things we want good novels to be.”—Joe Schuster, author of The Might Have Been

“A gripping read.  If you’ve ever marveled at the fluidity of a quadruple scull cutting through water in first light, and wondered what makes its 4-man motor work, this book will provide the answers, and then some.  Irwin is adept at revealing the tricky bonds between rowers, and the way those bonds can shape—and misshape—a life.”—Tom McNeal, author of To Be Sung Underwater, USA Today 2011 Best Book of the Year

"The opening scene of Ron Irwin's lovely debut novel left me breathless.  Irwin writes astutely about finding one's place in the world, testing the limits of our endurance, and how we find the strength to carry on.”—Amanda Eyre Ward, author of Close Your Eyes

"In taut, muscular prose Irwin details the punishing training regimen of The God Four, a crew of competitive oarsmen who commit themselves body and soul to the pain and glory of their sport. Flat Water Tuesday is a powerful consideration of the exhilarating love of competition and the high cost of victory. Ron Irwin has written a propulsive, heart-stopping story in the tradition of such sporting classics as Alan Sillitoe’s “The Loneliness of The Long Distance Runner,” and Bernard Malamud’s The Natural Flat Water Tuesday is a world-class champion of a novel."—Amber Dermont, New York Times bestselling author of The Starboard Sea

"Ron Irwin’s rowing tale —Flat Water Tuesday – brings to life a rite of passage that is complex, insightful, and stirring.  Inside the gunnels of the rowing shell secrets are kept. Powerful fathers produce legendary sons, and legends arise that haunt some forever.  His artistry weaves heroism, rivalry, romance, tragedy, and raw life together inside the ethereal dynamics of a boarding school crew—not any crew, but “The God Four”—which, in the end, leaves all to wrestle with the reckoning that God was indeed watching.  Written in the tradition of Dead Poets Society, Ron Irwin’s story is a must for anyone who loves rowing, sports, or just a darn good read."—Susan Saint Sing, member of the 1993 U.S. National Rowing Team and author of The Wonder Crew

"Flat Water Tuesday is more than just a wonderful coming-of-age novel, it's a gripping and beautifully drawn portrait of a man coming to grips with his demons. His unforgettable story will take you through heartbreak and back, where resilience can teach you not just about achievement, but also about love."
—Elizabeth Percer, author of An Uncommon Education

"A biting, beautiful novel about the cost of winning and the lessons of loss. In Robert Carrey, Ron Irwin has created a character of precision and depth, a man who must learn that he cannot scull through life alone." —Jennifer Miller, author of The Year of the Gadfly

"A fine coming-of-age novel by a talented new author." —Hudson Valley News

“All you ever wanted to know about the world of competitive rowing is contained in the pages of Ron Irwin's new novel, whose hero is not only a prodigious oarsman but the lover of two memorably realized women.”—J.M. Coetzee

Flat Water Tuesday is the best debut novel I've read this year, a compulsively readable dark drama that weaves multiple storylines toward one marvelous denouement. Ron Irwin writes with confidence and skill and authenticity in this exploration of identity and the poisonous fuel of ambition. It will call other books -- A Separate Peace, The Art of Fielding -- to mind but stands alone as an original and powerful work. I'll read anything Irwin writes after this.”—Michael Koryta, New York Times bestselling author of The Prophet

“Irwin debuts with movingly rendered literary fiction about love and loss, youth and maturity, ambition and its cost...a powerful study of the muddled, stumbling steps from youth into adulthood...Irwin's descriptions are observant and intimate—readers become immersed in the Darwinian cruelty of the young reflected against the loneliness of a lost, jaded teacher, then confront a man finding purpose, and close the book after bathing in a deeply evocative, hope-filled conclusion. An elegy to love and loss and reconciliation.”—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“In Ron Irwin's capable hands, past and present fuse into a haunting meditation on class, guilt, and the perils of victory.  You don't need to have set foot in a scull to be swept along by this affecting book.  Flat Water Tuesday is the debut of a deft and talented new voice.”—Eric Puchner, author of Pen/Faulkner Award finalist Model Home

“With echoes of A Separate Peace, Ron Irwin's wonderful Flat Water Tuesday is a masterful coming of age story about making one's place in the world, about the sacrifices love asks of us and of the rewards it may give us, about friendship and responsibility and so many other aspects of being human. It's compelling, moving and often heart-breaking -- all of the things we want good novels to be.”—Joe Schuster, author of The Might Have Been

“A gripping read.  If you’ve ever marveled at the fluidity of a quadruple scull cutting through water in first light, and wondered what makes its 4-man motor work, this book will provide the answers, and then some.  Irwin is adept at revealing the tricky bonds between rowers, and the way those bonds can shape—and misshape—a life.”—Tom McNeal, author of To Be Sung Underwater, USA Today 2011 Best Book of the Year

"The opening scene of Ron Irwin's lovely debut novel left me breathless.  Irwin writes astutely about finding one's place in the world, testing the limits of our endurance, and how we find the strength to carry on.”—Amanda Eyre Ward, author of Close Your Eyes

"In taut, muscular prose Irwin details the punishing training regimen of The God Four, a crew of competitive oarsmen who commit themselves body and soul to the pain and glory of their sport. Flat Water Tuesday is a powerful consideration of the exhilarating love of competition and the high cost of victory. Ron Irwin has written a propulsive, heart-stopping story in the tradition of such sporting classics as Alan Sillitoe’s “The Loneliness of The Long Distance Runner,” and Bernard Malamud’s The Natural Flat Water Tuesday is a world-class champion of a novel."—Amber Dermont, New York Times bestselling author of The Starboard Sea

"Ron Irwin’s rowing tale —Flat Water Tuesday – brings to life a rite of passage that is complex, insightful, and stirring.  Inside the gunnels of the rowing shell secrets are kept. Powerful fathers produce legendary sons, and legends arise that haunt some forever.  His artistry weaves heroism, rivalry, romance, tragedy, and raw life together inside the ethereal dynamics of a boarding school crew—not any crew, but “The God Four”—which, in the end, leaves all to wrestle with the reckoning that God was indeed watching.  Written in the tradition of Dead Poets Society, Ron Irwin’s story is a must for anyone who loves rowing, sports, or just a darn good read."—Susan Saint Sing, member of the 1993 U.S. National Rowing Team and author of The Wonder Crew

"Flat Water Tuesday is more than just a wonderful coming-of-age novel, it's a gripping and beautifully drawn portrait of a man coming to grips with his demons. His unforgettable story will take you through heartbreak and back, where resilience can teach you not just about achievement, but also about love."
—Elizabeth Percer, author of An Uncommon Education

"A biting, beautiful novel about the cost of winning and the lessons of loss. In Robert Carrey, Ron Irwin has created a character of precision and depth, a man who must learn that he cannot scull through life alone." —Jennifer Miller, author of The Year of the Gadfly

"A fine coming-of-age novel by a talented new author." —Hudson Valley News

Reviews from Goodreads

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

  • Ron Irwin

  • Ron Irwin was born and raised in Buffalo, New York, and attended boarding school and college in New England, where he was a member of a number of winning rowing crews. He currently lectures in the Centre for Film and Media Studies at the University of Cape Town. Flat Water Tuesday is his first novel.

  • Ron Irwin TK
    Ron Irwin
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Flat Water Tuesday

A Novel

Ron Irwin

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FROM THE PUBLISHER

St. Martin's Griffin

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