Today’s selection is a book that’s been resting patiently on Sparky for some time. The Night Swimmer, by Matt Bondurant, is a novel of myriad enchantments by a writer of extraordinary talent.
Now, in calm weather, to swim in the open ocean is as easy to the practiced swimmer as to ride in a spring-carriage ashore. But the awful lonesomeness is intolerable. The intense concentration of self in the middle of such a heartless immensity, my God! who can tell it?
Herman Melville, Moby-Dick
It began with a dart, a pint, and a poem, three elements that seemed to demonstrate the imprecise nature of fate. When Fred stepped up to the line, the dart held loosely in his hand, you could see in the way he carried his body the assurances of a man who was well prepared. Fred was always lucky, but to say that now seems to remove something essential from him. In fact it is Fred who should be telling you this story, as he was the one preparing for this all along. Not me.
Teaser: It was a common enough dream for young Americans of a certain set: by moving into a mostly imagined past, represented by Europe, we could recapture something we so desperately wanted in the present. Or simply a way out of the meat grinder of the suburbs. (3%)
Amazon Description: An “evocative and often lyrical” (San Francisco Chronicle) novel about a young American couple who win a pub on the southernmost tip of Ireland and become embroiled in the local violence and intrigue.In a small town on the southern coast of Ireland, an isolated place frequented by fishermen and occasional bird-watchers, Fred and Elly Bulkington, newly arrived from Vermont, encounter a wild, strange land shaped by the pounding storms of the North Atlantic. As Fred revels in the life of a new pubowner, Elly takes the ferry out to a nearby island where anyone not born there is called a “blow-in.” To the disbelief of the locals, Elly devotes herself to open-water swimming, pushing herself to the limit and crossing unseen boundaries that drive her into the heart of the island’s troubles—the mysterious tragedy that shrouds its inhabitants and the dangerous feud between an enigmatic farmer and a powerful clan that has no use for outsiders.
The poignant unraveling of a marriage, the fierce beauty of the natural world, the mysterious power of Irish lore, and the gripping story of strangers in a strange land rife with intrigue and violence—The Night Swimmer is a novel of myriad enchantments by a writer of extraordinary talent.
What do you think? Are you intrigued? Would you keep reading?