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Monday, June 20, 2011

Swim Back to Me: Stories

Swim Back to Me: Stories
Ann Packer
Knopf; 2011

Once upon a time, in the not so distant past, a dedicated but somewhat forgetful reader and blogger read a collection of short stories. It took her about a week to read the stories, and she probably enjoyed them, but then she returned the book to the library, jotted down the title in order to remember it, and then went about her regular day as a busy branch manager in a medium size library. The summer reading program had just started, which meant lots of children to help, lots of books to sort and shelve and lots of requests for Diary of a Wimpy Kid and anything, please, by Rick Riordan. As any library worker can tell you, summertime is chaotic and overwhelming and usually short-handed, which would be a challenge for the best memory in the world, which our reader has not. In fact, some would say that this reader has a mind like a sieve, but not me. I would say that she does the best she can under the circumstances.

Time went on and the book of stories faded into a pleasant haze of something vaguely remembered and appreciated but nothing specific. When it came time for our reader to update her book review blog, she drew a blank. Did she actually read this collection, she wondered? Did she finish it? And most importantly, did she like it? She had a good feeling about the book, but feelings aren’t specific enough for a review, and besides, was that really fair? So she did some research and looked at book reviews (they were positive) and on websites (also positive) and read summaries of some of the stories in order to jog her memory. Nothing worked. She thought about it while she hunted for Dr. Seuss books. She thought about it while she pulled piles of picture books out of the book bins. She even thought about it while she shelved holds (which might explain why one ended up on the wrong place!) but she could not remember a single thing about the book. What should she do? How could she review the title?

Then she realized something. Most people who are looking for something to read don’t need a detailed summary of the plot, nor do they really want a specific review of the title. They just want to know two things: 1) Are people reading this book; and 2) Will I like it? Luckily, this librarian knew the answers to both:

1) Yes, people are reading this book;
2) Yes, you will like it.

3) However, I'm guessing you won't remember it either.

Other books by this author:
Mendocino and other stories (1994)
The Dive from Clausen’s Pier (2002)
Songs Without Words (2007)

Other books you may enjoy:

Sourland: Stories by Joyce Carol Oates (2010)
Sixteen short stories explore violence, loss, and grief with tales about a librarian amputee who attracts a married man and a young girl in love with her incarcerated cousin.

Secrets from the Vinyl Café by Stuart McLean (2011)
The popular CBC radio personality describes the characters who populate The Vinyl Cafe, featuring their misdemeanors, transgressions and clandestine matters of the heart.

by Julian Barnes (2011)
A volume of fourteen stories about loss, friendship, and longing includes the tales of a recently divorced real-estate agent who invades a reticent girlfriend's privacy, a couple that meets over an illicit cigarette, and a widower who struggles to let go of grief.


  1. Well, thanks for your honest review! It made me laugh! I hate when I can't remember things! If I see this in the library, I might just pick it up and flip through it. I'm not real big on short stories, but, you never know!

  2. I like this book very much. And it looks nice too)