Review: The Same Deep Water As You by Chad Lutzke

The Same Deep Water As You by Chad Lutzke
Static Age Books (January 2019)

120 pages; $6.99 paperback; $2.99 e-book
Reviewed by Sadie Hartmann

In 1990-1993 I was a skater girl groupie. I wore high-top Converse sneakers, ripped jeans, a flannel shirt tied around my waist and garage band tees. After school and on the weekends, the boys would skate and a few other girls and I would watch. They let us sit on their old boards and we would smoke weed or cigarettes and laugh when the boys ate it and cheer when they landed something.

We listened to The Dead Kennedys, NOFX, the Sex Pistols and the Pixies (theme song: “Where is My Mind”). So when I say that I could immediately relate to Chad Lutzke’s coming-of-age novella, The Same Deep Water As You, it is because I lived that lifestyle and in that same era.

The style and momentum of Chad’s writing in Deep Water reads like a personal diary—reminiscent of his recent release, Skullface Boy. It’s instantly accessible, readable, engaging and authentic. Chad breathes so much life into his narrator, Jex. He feels like a boy I knew. A boy all of us knew or know or could know, because that’s what Chad does so well. He writes like a man possessed by his characters—characters who need to bleed out their story on the page. And not just the narrator Jex, but Jessica’s story and Toni’s story…all of their stories. The teenagers here have vulnerabilities, struggles, confessions and insecurities that Chad draws out of them; plumbing their depths like a deep, deep well.

The reader has a gut-wrenching invitation to either fully engage with the text and risk utter emotional ruin and heart breakage, or tap out. Of course, I never tap out and the result is that I finish with all these feelings and tears and the daunting task of knowing that I will write how much I love these tales with nothing but words.

But I can try. I can try to impress upon you that in just over one hundred pages, Lutzke takes a little ball of yarn and unravels it one chapter at a time revealing a little more, and then a little more of what is nestled in the very center of the fuzzy, yarn ball. Young love, bad decisions, tragedy, comedy, hope, fears, lust—all these threads spooling out into a pile at your feet. Then, towards the end, it all comes together—Chad’s message that was there all along. He just needed your participation along the way so that when the message is delivered, you feel it.  This one hurts (just like so many of Chad’s little stories) but it’s what we all keep coming back for—this paper package of humanity with a pretty cover and a poetic title and the name Chad Lutzke.

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