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Swim back to me
Ann Packer
Adult Fiction PACKER

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From Publishers' Weekly:

Packer's sterling collection is framed by two novellas. In the opener, "Walk for Mankind," teenager Richard Appleby describes his bittersweet relationship with Sasha Horowitz, a rebellious, risk-taking 14-year-old, who has a clandestine affair with a drug dealer. Sasha's behavior is a reaction to her controlling and hyper-charming father, an English professor who's spiraling downward professionally and personally. "Things Said or Done" is set three decades later, when Sasha, now 51 and divorced, has become Richard's caretaker, forced to deal with his self-destructive, narcissistic personality while recognizing the ways in which they are alike. Packer's talents are evident in these psychologically astute novellas, and also in the stories in between. "Molten" conveys a mother's grief over her adolescent son's senseless death; "Dwell Time" features a protagonist's happy second marriage-until her husband disappears. In the affecting "Her First Born," a new father finally understands his wife's attachment to the memory of her first child, who died. The only misstep is "Jump," whose lead character, a rich man's son who fakes an underprivileged background to work in a photocopy shop, lacks credibility. Packer (The Dive from Clausen's Pier) presents complex human relationships with unsentimental compassion. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

From Library Journal:

This new collection from Packer (The Dive from Clausen's Pier) is framed by two stunning first-person narratives that introduce readers to two academic families briefly converging in and around Stanford in the 1970s. In each case, the narrator comes from the second generation. The opening story, "Walk for Mankind," captures the viewpoint of the teenage son of an established Stanford history professor, while the closing piece, "Things Said and Done," gives voice to the adventurous daughter of a visiting instructor taking a step down from Yale for a one-year appointment in Palo Alto. In each instance, Packer pulls the strings in such a way that the itinerant father, doomed by his difficult personality to a life perpetually lived off the tenure track, becomes the focal point. Unfortunately, or perhaps inevitably, the other four stories in the volume, though well crafted and engaging, have the feel of problems solved rather than lives fully lived. VERDICT Whereas some great short story writers stumble with the sprawl of a novel, Packer, who occasionally works on a smaller scale, appears to be a novelist at heart. Still, these California stories are expansive and open-ended. It's hard to let them go. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 11/1/10.]-Sue Russell, Bryn Mawr, PA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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