Last night I had the pleasure of attending the launch of Marianne Apostolides first novel, Swim. If my interest in the novel hadn't already been piqued by ongoing conversations with Marianne about books and the writing process (her author bio neatly sums up her preoccupations thus: "her current writing explores the contact zone between genres — poetry vs. prose, fiction vs. non-fiction, creative vs. critical"), the excellent reading that she gave from it would certainly have done the trick. And it's a gorgeous looking book as well. I arrived home late in the evening, signed copy in hand, well pleased with myself. I can't wait to read it.
Here's a full description lifted from the back cover:
Attuned to a body in motion, Swim pulls the reader beneath the logic of prose, into the eroticism of language itself. The arcing rhythm of a body breathing – a woman marking her birth as she swims in a pool – sustains the unique and hypnotic language that becomes the medium through which this story moves.
Swim entwines the present with those past actions and consequences that have brought Kat to the Greek mountain village where her father was born. She swims laps while her fourteen-year-old daughter reclines on a chaise lounge, poolside, reading a book. Without ever leaving the pool we enter discrete scenes with Kat's parents, daughter, husband and lover. On entering each point in this history, Kat reveals an undertow of sound, rhythm and words in their rippling meanings. Each new lap moves Kat closer to her impending decision: whether she will leave her husband. But the deeper tension within this innovative novel derives from the writing itself – its vital urgency that extends the possibilities of narrative beyond the fixed and into the fluid.
For publisher BookThug, last night's launch of Marianne's novel also served as the launch of the new imprint under which it appears, the Department of Narrative Studies which is devoted to the publication of innovative fiction. BookThug is an independent press, best known as a publisher of poetry, whose stated mission is "to enrich and advance the tradition of experimental literature." I've been challenged and delighted by a number of their poetry titles (The Men by Lisa Robertson is one of my all time favourites), and I'm excited to see where their foray into fiction will take them.