Reverberatingwith emotional power, authenticity, and insight, Swing Low isMiriam Toews' daring and deeply affecting memoir ofher father’s struggle with manic depression in a small Mennonite com...more
In her family memoir Swing Low: A Life, Mennonite author Miriam Toews reconstructs the life and death of her father. It is a beautifully written book, yet one dealing with difficult subject matter: mental illness and suicide. Her memoir of her father’s life touches upon the ties of family and community, and the struggle between faith and despair.
Mel Toews (Miriam’s father) was a res ...more
I wanted to read this because I read the author's novel All My Puny Sorrows. The novel deals with family suicide, and I heard that Miriam Toews had experience with suicides in her own family. I ended up liking this book quite a lot more than the novel.
This is a biography of her father, which she wrote in the first person, as if she were her father. Her father Mel suffered from manic depression (now called bipolar disorder) from a very young age. He managed to remain relatively happy and functio ...more
The day before his suicide his daughter, Miriam, asked him what he was thinking. His answ ...more
I found this to be the most telling sentence of what it must be like to be fully and deeply depressed.
This is a lovely tribute to one's father. It's warmly, lovingly and tenderly told, with understanding and compassion. It's beautiful in this context.
Mel's story is a remarkable one. His life was successful in every way: a job he loved, a wife he loved, a family he loved, friends he enjoyed...... ...more
As important as this book felt (especially to Toews as she writes this from her father's imaginary perspective), this was incredibly hard to read. Not because it was such a hard subject, but the start-stop of the writing. Toews flips from her father's past to present ...more
The first few chapters confused me a bit. They were circular and diffi ...more
Let me just say … I did not enjoy Irma Voth – the fiction novel that Miriam Toews wrote and I reviewed just a few weeks ago. So it was with some trepidation that I picked Swing Low up off my shelf.
I was blown away.
Seriously, this book was nothing at all like Irma Voth. It was clear, concise, and a beautiful tribute to her father. Miriam’s voice, as she speaks from her father’s point of view, is crystal clear, heart-breaking and filled with love. I never once got the se ...more
I am constantly amazed and humbled by Miriam Toews' writing. I love her work though the subject matter is not the cheeriest. I think her subjects of mental illness, depression and suicide are vital to discuss in open and validating ...more
If you or someone you love deals with mental illness, you know how honest this 'memoir' is. The outside person and the inside. The ironic opposite that places the public face as the strong one, and saves personal home settings for the illness to unbuckle.
Polite truths, sweet spirit, dry humour, honest reflection, routine trig ...more
The author's father, Mel Toews, was a loving father, a faithful Mennonite, and a gifted & much-admired teacher. And he suffered from bipolar disorder. One morning when he was in his 60's, he went for a walk and deliberately stepped in front of a train, killing himself.
In Swing Low, Miriam tries to make sense of her father's suicide by writing the story of his life as if from his own journals. Reading ...more
Toews studied at the University of Manitoba and the University of King's College in Halifax, and has also worked as a freelance newspaper and radio journalist. Her non-fiction book "Swing Low: A Life" was a memoir of her father, a vi ...more