Learning to Swim

by D.G.R.

[from Booklist, 15 April 1985]

Swift's stories in Learning to Swim could almost be episodes from his novel Shuttlecock. The British storyteller's characters are quite similar and are often found in like circumstances. When they are cynical or paranoid or harsh, they are helplessly so. Shuttlecock is the story of a young man who, through bizarre coincidence, discovers that his heroic but distant father may be a fraud. This improves his weakling self-image and frees him to ease up on the strained relationship he has created with his own young sons and wife. In the title story of Learning to Swim, the father creates a family rift echoing the one in the novel. In the story "Chemistry," a man and his grown daughter move in together when the spouse of each dies. The daughter's son relates the tale of how mother and grandfather lame each other for their losses. Once again generations are out of sync as a symptom of unhappiness. Swift's novel Waterland (Poseiden 1983) won him many American fans. These two haunting, engrossing, and memorable books further attest to his talent.

[Added by Barry J. Fishman '89]

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