Saturday, 24 August 2013


is a book by the late Roger Deakin, who I believe was one of the founders of Friends of the Earth, an organisation I hold these days in deepest contempt, but which did have its moments in the early days, and I supported it then. I loved this book, experienced and written in the 1990s, and will return to it, reading it by episodes rather than straight through as I did this time. You can see it here. "A Swimmer's Journey through Britain", he calls it, but it isn't really that. It's about swimming, a bit, and about England and its history, quite a lot, and about forgotten and hidden places people don't know are there as they thunder past on the motorway nearby, quite a lot. It's also inspired by the masterpiece of a film 'The Swimmer', which in its turn was based on a story by John Cheever (whom I must read, clearly). Swim in the wild and forgotten places - there will always be officials trying to stop you - or just go and find them. But don't leave much of a footprint.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

John Cheever is indeed a great writer - particularly the short stories - and 'The Swimmer' ( also a film starring Burt Lancaster)is one of his best. Read the complete short stories. And there is also an excellent biography of Cheever ( came out a couple of years ago) by Blake Bailey. I had a voracious Cheever phase about 18 months ago and read the lot - shortly after a manic Raymond Carver phase. The two were also connected by their chronic alcoholism - and were friends; although Carver was younger by about a deacde or so. Oddly, I am reading at the moment 'A trip to Echo Springs: writers who drink' by Olivia Laing. This is a study of Amercian literary alcoholics Cheever, Carver, Berryman, Hemmingway and Fitzgerald. Cheever was a very unhappy man. He made himself into a WASP ; disguisng his true origins and boasted about his heritage as a 'Cheevah'. He was tortured also by his homosexuality -- he kept 'breaking out' despite his marriage and kids. Hi wife was very soon aware and the marriage was not happy. The Swimmer, aptly enouigh, tells the story of a guy who decides to 'swim home' via the residential pools of his friends. So he sets out - but it is not a success. He meets disgust and rejection.When he gets 'home'teh house is boarded up and sold off. He has, in fact, lost everything through his alcoholism and the 'swim' has been an alcoholic dream/trance etc. Brilliant. The Laing book also extremely good so far. Hemmingway is scathing about Fitzgerald - motes and beams.