The Swimmers

This book is structured as a number of short stories about the dignities and indignities of age and memory, all centered around a woman who finds herself in an assisted living facility.

The writing is not, I would say, particularly good. It is New Yorker-core but overdoses on length and pathos; it is a bit like a bad episode of This American Life. There is a listicality to the writing that grates fairly quickly, in no small part due to how unoriginal the listicality is (Joe Brainard's take on the transcendence of the mundane in I Remember ↗ feels like a much purer articulation of the form.)

There is one thing that sticks with me through this book, which is the group of titular Swimmers from which the stories move on much too quickly. The idea of this group — an identity separate from work, from age or race or sex or wealth, held together not even by love of swimming or by aptitude but of shared sanctity — is really quite beautiful. I think it will stick with me for a long time.

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