Not a lot of reading today as I’ve had my hands (and mind) full with this feature script, but I did manage to get through one book! And, fortunately, it was a pretty good one…
The Swimmers by Julie Otsuka
The swimmers are unknown to each other except through their private routines (slow lane, fast lane), and the solace each takes in their morning or afternoon laps. But when a crack appears at the bottom of the pool, they are cast out into an unforgiving world without comfort or relief.
One of these swimmers is Alice, who is slowly losing her memory. For Alice, the pool was a final stand against the darkness of her encroaching dementia. Without the fellowship of other swimmers and the routine of her daily laps she is plunged into dislocation and chaos, swept into memories of her childhood and the Japanese internment camp in which she spent the war.
My take: The crack at the bottom of a communal pool becomes the symbolic fracture of Alice’s mind, a mild inconvenience at first that, slowly but surely, proves impossible to ignore, leading uneasy patrons to abandon its familiar, once comforting environs. It’s in much the same way that Alice’s mental lapses grow increasingly more concerning, ultimately leading to her admission to a care facility. Partway through the novel, the story switches to Alice’s daughter’s POV and she chronicles the disease’s insidious advance, the effect it has on their immediate family, and the slow, inevitable erosion of the woman she once knew. This book never strays into melodrama, offering an exacting and honest depiction of loss and loneliness – which makes it all that more tragic.
And what have you been reading?