"Outside a dog a book is man's best friend, inside a dog it is too dark to read!" -Groucho Marx========="The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid." -Jane Austen========="I don’t believe in the kind of magic in my books. But I do believe something very magical can happen when you read a good book."-JK Rowling========"I spend a lot of time reading." -Bill Gates=========“Ahhh. Bed, book, kitten, sandwich. All one needed in life, really.” -Jacqueline Kelly=========

Friday, June 14, 2024


Several years ago I read a National Book Award finalist, The Buddhas in the Attic by Julie Otsuka. I liked it very much for its uniqueness. The author used a technique where all the Picture Brides coming to America from Japan speak in one collective voice. "Some of us are from the city, some of us are from the country..." Readers meet these women as a whole and confront biases as they look at the whole. It was a very clever book and I appreciated it a lot.

In The Swimmers, Otsuka uses the same technique. The swimmers at this underground pool speak in unison, a collective "we" about their swimming experiences. See the example below from page two of the book:

There is one exception to the collective, only one person is named. "One of us -- Alice, a retired lab technician now in the early stages of dementia -- comes because she always has." After the swimming pool is closed permanently because it is starting to crack apart, the focus shifts from the swimmers to Alice as she is moved to a memory care facility. For a while the chorus shifts to the care facility itself as it reviews all of its many rules and advantages but ultimately the focus returns to Alice as she sinks further and further into dementia.
As with the earlier book by Otsuka, one has to be willing to suspend reading expectations and settle into a very different reading experience. With The Swimmers I came to appreciate how helpful it is to be involved in a physical activity and how, by contrast, devastating dementia is over time. Reading is is almost like reading poetry with very artistic prose. The book is very short-- I'd consider it a novella -- and I think it is worth your consideration.

2024 Twenty Books of Summer Challenge

2 / 20 books. 10% done!




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