Synopses & Reviews
“A writer who arrives with grace and authority,” says Alice Munro about the superb short stories of Mary Swan, winner of the First Prize in the 2001 O. Henry Awards.
In The Deep and Other Stories, Mary Swan gives us brilliant stories that illuminate the remarkable moments in life, covering a wide range of human thoughts and emotions in a unique, imaginative, and profoundly moving way. “The Deep,” her O. Henry Prize-winning story and the centerpiece of this book, tells of twin sisters, their lives amid the horror and confusion of World War I, and the deep connection between them.
The mysterious bonds that entwine people are at the heart of other stories as well. Whether vacationing at the Belgian seaside (“By the Sea, By the Sea”) or sharing an apartment in Spain (“Spanish Grammar”), Swans characters discover the emotional foundations that are part of being human. Imaginative, poetic, and true, The Deep and Other Stories reveals something unexpected—and magnificent—about what it means to be alive, to feel love and passion, to know and experience the worlds pains and pleasures in a way that is rooted in, and ultimately the essence of, the human condition. As Mary Gordon says, “‘The Deep marks the deep strangeness of the project of being alive....It flowers entirely on its own terms, and the terms are rich and strange.”
"Swan's subtle and haunting debut collection of short stories sketches the horrors of war, as well as other, quieter kinds of conflict....[T]he tales are united in their emphasis on loss and deterioration. An intense, accomplished first collection." Publishers Weekly
"[W]hen I first encountered Mary Swan's strange and lovely story 'The Deep'...I feared I might have to wait a long time to read more from this promising Canadian writer. What a pleasure, then, to see Swan so promptly reintroduced to American readers. In her first book...she explores a number of different forms with varying results, succeeding most brilliantly at those that seem the most difficult." Andrea Barrett, The New York Times Book Review
"Swan has a strong command of metaphorical language; to read through this collection is to peruse an old photo album steeped in memory and surprisingly visceral detail....Some of the shorter pieces read like shallow sketches propped up by Swan's deft manipulation of language and nostalgic sentiment....A good purchase wherever short stories are read." Library Journal
"What I find most compelling, even startling, about these stories is the urgency of feeling and the calm beauty of the telling." Alice Munro, author of Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage
"'The Deep' marks the deep strangeness of the project of being alive....It rescues the past a particular slice of the past, the frequently limned period of the First World War from the dead life of a museum piece....I chose this story as first [for the O. Henry Award] among so many strong others because of its utter originality, its daring to assert the primacy of complexity and mystery, its avoidance of the current appetite for ironic anomie and thinness. It flowers entirely on its own terms, and the terms are rich and strange." Mary Gordon, author of The Shadow Man
With The Deep and Other Stories, Mary Swan offers brilliant stories that illuminate the remarkable moments in life and cover a wide range of human thoughts and emotions, in a unique, imaginative, and profoundly moving way.
About the Author
Mary Swan is the winner of the 2001 O. Henry Award for short fiction and has been published in several Canadian literary magazines, including The Malahat Review and Best Canadian Stories 92, as well as American publications such as Harper's, the Ontario Review, and Sudden Fiction Continued. She lives with her husband and daughter near Toronto, where she works in the library of the University of Guelph.
Table of Contents
The deep -- Hour of lead -- The new wife -- 1917 -- Emma's hands -- Down by the lake -- Spanish grammar -- On the border -- Max, 1970 -- By the sea, by the sea -- At the river -- In the story that won't be written -- The manual of remote sensing -- Peach.