Jessica's Reviews > Night Swimming

Night Swimming by Pete Fromm
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's review
May 01, 2011

liked it
bookshelves: short-stories
Read from March 22 to 24, 2004

A Bookslut review of As Cool As I Am (paired with the possible Dar Williams allusion in the title) made me curious to check out the book, but when the library didn't have a copy in, I ended up leaving with a collection of Fromm's short stories, Night Swimming, instead.

It's probably unfortunate that I read this book right after The Torturer's Apprentice, another short story collection, because The Torturer's Apprentice was SO good, and so stylistically strong, that I was jolted to find that Fromm's stories are neither so self-contained nor so tidy as Biguenet's. The stories in Night Swimming are more like excerpts from or sketches for novels - and in fact, I realized that at least two stories from this book Fromm later did turn into novels. "How All This Started" features two characters who pop up again a couple of years later in a book by the same name, and "The Gravy on the Cake" became As Cool As I Am. I felt like I didn't understand the characters especially well, that their stories spilled out onto pages before and after the pages I was allowed to read, and while Fromm writes well and captured some interesting moments in these stories, I'm not sure they really worked as short stories. Or maybe they just don't work in the definition of short story I have in my head right now, which is shaped by having just read The Torturer's Apprentice. It's hard to say.

Mostly I feel really ambivalent about this book.

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