Thursday, December 10, 2009

Swimming, by Nicola Keegan

This book has the distinction of having an acknowledgment section which is every bit as entertaining as the story itself. Not to mention thought-provoking - who is this guy she raves about and to whom she promises forever, when her husband gets only a brief mention?

What I thought of this book
: 5 stars!

Well, maybe 4 7/8. I started to slip slightly near the end, but that may be more my pathological hatred of endings than any fault of the author.

Where I heard about this book
: I can't remember! It was on my goodreads to-read list, so probably one of my friends recommended it.

What this book is about: A swimmer. A very, very good swimmer, who encounters more than her fair share of personal tragedy at a young age. It's about her growing up, about the people who help her grow up, and about how she manages the complicated reality of being grown up.

Swimming is a near-perfect combination of character, story and style. In a speech about the book, Nicola Keegan says that she tried to hate one of her characters, but that an "underlying rushing river of goddamn compassion" overtook her. Which to my mind is how authors should feel about their characters: it is what keeps them (the characters) from being two-dimensional. The story is engaging and feels to me like real life, with all its attendant stops and starts and wonderings and frights. It is the writing that shines above all - Keegan has a truly unique voice - I could have read this book for weeks.

Here's a piece she wrote about writing the book. That's convoluted, I know, but it will give you a sense of her terrific style.

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