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The River Swimmer by Jim Harrison
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The River Swimmer (edition 2013)

by Jim Harrison (Author)

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1981692,040 (3.73)5
Two novellas provide insight into the human condition as a sixty-year-old art history academic embarks on an unexpected journey of discovery and a young farm boy is drawn to the water of Lake Michigan as an escape.
Member:lulaa
Title:The River Swimmer
Authors:Jim Harrison (Author)
Info:Grove Press (2018), 210 pages
Collections:Read but unowned, DIGITAL
Rating:
Tags:ancianos, scribd

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The River Swimmer: Novellas by Jim Harrison

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» See also 5 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 16 (next | show all)
Eh
  lieberry | Aug 12, 2018 |
Found the title novella the much more compelling of the two. ( )
  Abbey_Harlow | Oct 5, 2017 |
In these two relatively short novellas, Harrison offers one male protagonist in each: one an adolescent swimmer and the other a retired painter. But the signature that runs through much of Harrison's work is in both of these characters: they are burdened by their reflections, their impulses, and especially in the case of Clive, the aging painter, their regrets. Harrison here adds two more inspired stories to his already large bibliography.

The first story, "The Land of Unlikeness" follows 60-year-old Clive, a bitter ex-painter (of 20 years) and recently retired professor of art history. This narrative has become almost a template for Harrison: a character banished by or burned out on a complicated urban life seeks refuge in his hometown, a rural Michigan location. The story is a series of reflection upon experiences which provide a series of realizations about the man's identity, and this process allows him to heal previously damaged relationships with his mother, sister, and especially his daughter. Like much of Harrison's work, it's beautifully written, full of witty observations and acknowledgements of subtle ironies that very often go ignored. The protagonist is deeply flawed, but he's good at his core, and Harrison communicates that well.

The title story, "The River Swimmer" is a tale of 17-year-old Thad, part of a history-rich farming family in Michigan. Thad's obvious blessing is his uncanny swimming ability, both his physique and his disciplined focus on the activity. The story revolves around Thad's inner conflict: should he build his life around his family's farm, or pursue his love of hydrology at his college of choice? His swimming ability is a complication because others would love to see him swim competitively, which he has no interest in. The story is full of evil characters with evil intent and well-meaning, yet fundamentally flawed characters. The story overall is another beauty--Harrison uses the story to demonstrate the contrast between the pastoral life and that of the typically urban, academic world. The protagonist sees value in both, and both worlds feature deep flaws and incredible beauty.

Overall this pair is more or less what I'd expect from Jim Harrison. I enjoy it as I do all of his work, though I'm not surprised by anything here. Perhaps the third novella should have been another Brown Dog episode, but that's not for me to say. Perhaps the fact is simply that Harrison has hit upon something so perfect that he can winnow away at it infinitely and continue to produce these excellent stories. ( )
  jantz | Jan 1, 2017 |
This audio book was extremely well written, really deserving a 5 star rating for writing quality, however, I found many of the scenes incredibly inapproiate. I'm still having dirty dreams and fantasy's about a scene with a green dress in a '47 Plymouth. So for that it is really deserving of no more than a 2, so I split the difference on a 3.5.

This short 4 disc audio book is two separate "Novellas" the first, that had the aforementioned scene, is about a guy from Northern Lower Michigan who grew up on a farm and went off to college to be an artists and eventually became a stuck up art historian, making the measly salary of $200,000/yr and has to move back home at the age of 60 to help his aging mother, rekindling a high school romance etc. etc.

The second story ,far shorter, is about a 17 yr/old kid from Manitou Island who swims down to Chicago for the fun of it and to escape his girlfriend's father. He meets a rich girl along the way and all in all he doesn't know what to do with his life, he just wants to swim, and has an obsession with "Water Babies" allegedly the spirit of dead children who now live in the river. I really want to learn more about "water babies" but haven't been successful in my quick internet searches. The second story all contains too many sex scenes but none as graphic as the first.

I cannot in good conscience recommend this book, but if you are into that sort of thing, I guess now you know it exists. ( )
  fulner | Mar 15, 2016 |
Found the title novella the much more compelling of the two. ( )
  abbeyhar | Apr 2, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 16 (next | show all)
Indeed, both of the novellas that make up Harrison’s new book (also called “The River Swimmer”) dive into a watershed age with Harrison’s signature gusto. Thad, the river swimmer, is 17 in every way; Clive, the art professor returning to the farm in “The Land of Unlikeness,” is 60. These two trenchant and visionary long stories are about the real human discomfort — and triumph — of being awake.
added by ozzer | editNew York Times, Ron Carlson (Jan 18, 2013)
 
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Clive awoke before dawn in a motel in Ypsilanti, Michigan, thinking that it was altogether possible that every woman in the world was marries to the wrong man.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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