Sunday, 19 December 2010

William Kotzwinkle

This morning, in my totally undisturbed house by the sea, I read Kotzwinkle’s short novella Swimmer in the Secret Sea. It’s a highly recommendable story! 

I discovered the text by accident on a visit to The Mookse and the Gripes, looking for some comments on César Aira’s An Episode in the Life of a Landscape Painter, which I was reading last week. M&G was very convincing on Kotzwinkle, so I just had to give him a try.

Swimmer in the Secret Sea is read in an hour or two; the form is as compact as the content. I believe Norwegian publishers would have called it a short story - not only because of the few pages, but also because the story is centred on only one scene.
A man, a woman, and an unborn child: Life takes a wrong turn, it’s an accident, and there is no one to blame. For the two who were about to become parents life will never be the same.
The drama is told in a very sober way, no big words, no feigned feelings. Snowy roads and a vast forest underline the sadness and emptiness that suddenly arises in the little family. But there is also a stream of comfort and consolation running through the pages, making me believe that the couple might manage, might go on – after all, sharing the sadness of grief in a considerate and respectful way. 

As I read it – there is a kind of warmth in the story, despite the tragedy, the emptiness and the icy snow, maybe it is this combination of sadness and softness that makes this such a great read?

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