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Swim Back to Me (Vintage Contemporaries)by Ann Packer
Synopses & Reviews
From Ann Packer, author of the New York Times best-selling novels The Dive from Clausens Pier and Songs Without Words, a collection of burnished, emotionally searing stories, framed by two unforgettable linked narratives that express the transformation of a single family over the course of a lifetime.
A wife struggles to make sense of her husbands sudden disappearance. A mother mourns her teenage son through the music collection he left behind. A woman shepherds her estranged parents through her brothers wedding and reflects on the year her family collapsed. A young man comes to grips with the joy — and vulnerability — of fatherhood. And, in the masterly opening novella, two teenagers from very different families forge a sustaining friendship, only to discover the disruptive and unsettling power of sex.
Ann Packer is one of our most talented archivists of family life, with its hidden crevasses and unforeseeable perils, and in these stories she explores the moral predicaments that define our social and emotional lives, the frailty of ordinary grace, and the ways in which we are shattered and remade by loss. With Swim Back to Me, she delivers shimmering psychological precision, unfailing intelligence, and page-turning drama: her most enticing work yet.
"Packer...is a master at getting to the heart of characters struggling on in the face of loss....Swim Back to Me is best enjoyed for Packer's sharply focused snapshots of people at pivotal points in their lives, a focus so intense that we can feel as if we're spying on them." St. Louis Post-Dispatch
"As audacious, imaginative and poignant as any of [Packer's] previous work....Packer can compress a lifetime of hope and sorrow in a short story, and in a brief paragraph can suggest the unspoken language of marriage and family." The Miami Herald
"A novella and five stories limn with acuity and empathy the intricate negotiations and painful losses of family life....[Packer's] prose is deceptively simple, her insights always complex....Touching, tender and true....As rich and satisfying as Packer's two fine novels." Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review)
"[A] sterling collection. . . . Packer's talents are evident. . . . Packer presents complex human relationships with unsentimental compassion." Publishers Weekly
"Ann Packer's Swim Back to Me reminded me of why I fell in love with literature in the first place. Upon closing the book, I thought, 'I'll read this again'....Packer's stories stick with you." Susan Baleé, the Philadelphia Inquirer
"Stunning. . . . Packer can break your heart — and she can mend it, too." O, the Oprah Magazine
"A tour de force. . . . With this collection, Ann Packer takes her place among today's best authors of literary fiction." The Minneapolis Star-Tribune
"[Packer' s] patient investigations reveal human longing in such clear, stripped-down familiarity — never shirking from the difficult — that readers experience a singular sense of comfort." San Francisco Chronicle
"Exhilarating. . . . Searing. . . . [Packer' s] stories brim with piercing vitality and clear-eyed believability." The Washington Post
"Packer paints these lives with full and compassionate brush strokes." The New York Times Book Review
"Wonderful. . . . [A] lovely, masterful collection." The Boston Globe
"[Beginning] Packer's stories feels as nonchalant as stepping into a puddle but results in a sudden plunge into deep water. . . . Potent and deftly written." Dallas Morning News
"An author who speaks with her full voice. . . . The people in Packer' s stories are so possible and so familiar, reading about them is like flipping through a photo album with someone you've always known." San Francisco magazine
"Gripping. . . . A stunning look into how we learn and sometimes fail to live with each other." The Daily Beast
"Utterly readable. . . . Ann Packer has a talent for creating authentic, absorbing characters." Ladies Home Journal
"A keen observer of family dynamics. . . . Packer the novelist is equally adept at the short form." The Oakland Tribune
"Packer's descriptions of what crisis looks like from the inside out are almost always word-perfect." Toledo Blade
Ann Packer is one of our most talented observers of family life, with its hidden crevasses and unforeseeable perils. In these unforgettable, emotionally searing stories, she explores the moral predicaments that define our lives, the frailty of ordinary grace, and the ways in which we are shattered and remade by loss.
About the Author
Ann Packer is the author of two best-selling novels, Songs Without Words and The Dive from Clausen's Pier, the latter of which received a Great Lakes Book Award, an American Library Association Award, and the Kate Chopin Literary Award. Her short fiction and essays have appeared in the New Yorker, the Washington Post, Vogue, and Real Simple. Also the author of Mendocino and Other Stories, she lives in northern California with her family.
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