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Swimming (Ballantine Reader's Circle) (2000)
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Wikipedia in English
Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0345442768, Paperback)In her first novel, Swimming, Joanna Hershon juggles a number of heady themes, from fraternal rivalry to fate to the perilous nature of desire. A layered narrative, this tale of familial struggle begins in the 1960s and ends three decades later, evoking such authors as Carolyn See or Carol Anshaw. Like them, Hershon painstakingly investigates the psychological innards of her characters, as if hoping to find what's hidden in their minds. Slowly and carefully she teases out motivations and misgivings, filling in the picture piece by piece.
At the heart of Swimming are the Wheeler brothers, Aaron and Jack, locked in a fierce competition. Aaron's handsome and successful, but repressed. Jack's an outlaw and a drifter, but seems to possess a freedom that eludes his more conventional brother. The boys grew up in the woods with a hippie mother and a stern, elusive father. The isolated house with its hidden pond has a curious power--it's the place where each character meets his or her ultimate test. The water itself becomes the symbol of the Wheeler family's soul, a cloudy medium in which some drown and some float. And indeed, the fallout from one tragic evening on the shores of the pond occupies most of the second half of Swimming.
Hershon has mastered the art of the group scene, and her novel contains many well-wrought dinners, beer bashes, and restaurant meals--forced encounters, in which the Wheelers are nudged out of their shells. And she's got a fine eye for detail: at one dinner, for instance, Aaron notes that "his mother, though animated, looked exhausted, like someone who stayed up all night turning lights on and off." Such vivid observations, combined with accessible, well-delineated characters, make Swimming an absorbing read. --Ellen Williams
(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 14 Jan 2013 17:19:14 -0500)
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