Wednesday, January 4, 2012

The Night Swimmer

The Night Swimmer, by Matt Bondurant.

This is hard to describe now. I will have to carefully measure the tone. In my mind it is a story without words, only the shrill cry of heartbreak. I think of how much time I spent with my head in the water, swimming long stretches of the lake or the churning green sea. I think of what happened on that windy shore, the broken harbor, a small pub on the edge of the world, and I am ashamed.

The Night Swimmer follows Elly and her husband Fred, who wins a pub in Ireland, complete with a little apartment above it and the taxes paid off. They soon find, however, that the locals don't like "blow-ins" - those who move to Ireland - and they have some trouble with the Corrigans, a "mob family" of sort that pretty much rule the island. Kieran Corrigan is building his own pub complete with guesthouses in the surrounding area, and he doesn't like it when people get in his way.

Elly has a rare skin condition - "congenital hypodermic strata" - a "thin, even layer of subcutaneous fat deposits under the skin all over [her] body, giving [her] skin a dimpled surface." Because of this, she can withstand colder water than most humans, and she revels in swimming in the waters near Ireland, though a few times she encounters dangerous waters and things in the water. This also means that she's not always on the island when she should be, as well.

This book flowed very nicely - almost like poetry - but wasn't really my "cup of tea." Some of the scenes/events were very vague and confused me, until the end when they all pieced themselves together. Matt Bondurant is something of a rising star in the literary world, it seems - his novel The Wettest County in the World is being made into a feature film with Shia LaBeouf, Jessica Chastain, and Mia Wasikowska - but his prose is more lyrical than substantive, with sometimes makes for hard reading/comprehending. Elly, Fred, and their Irish friends make for interesting characters, but they are not always easy to figure out.

The Night Swimmer will be available in bookstores on January 10th.
2.5 stars out of 5.

*Author's Note: I was given a copy of this novel to review. All opinions listed, however, are my own.


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