I have finished reading Swimming at Suppertime by Carol Wasserman
and have decided to write my review while the pages are still warm. The complete title of this wonderful little book is Swimming at Suppertime, Seasons of Delight on the Wrong Side of Buzzards Bay. It is a collection of short stories, some short enough to read while
you're waiting in line at the grocery checkout. If you are looking for a book that exemplifies the human spirit, this book is it. If you are at a time in your life when you are wondering why Fate has conspired against you (again), then this is the book for you. If you know someone who needs to be reminded that yes, it is a wonderful life, buy this book for them (you can always borrow it from them later).
I have to admit that at first I thought I was reading a sweet collection of fiction but when I reread the publisher’s description I said, out loud, “This is real?!” I had originally planned to read a sampling of the collected stories and then base my review on them (well, I am a reviewer,
and I have twelve other books staring at me, waiting to be brought into public knowledge) but I found myself reading every one of them. I didn’t skip a word, a sentence, or a page. I read every word Wasserman wrote
-- even the acknowledgements, and I do tend to skim those.
Wasserman’s memoirs reminded me of the Waltons without all those kids, and her writing style is a combination of Stuart McLean and Kaye Gibbons. Her recollections are brief, insightful and inspiring. This makes for a great way to impart her down-home folksy wisdom on city folk like me who prefer
our lessons painless and short. Here’s what I learned from Wasserman: I wasn’t the only kid who got dressed in the kitchen in front of a hot oven on cold winter mornings and, sometimes, one great love in a lifetime makes up for all the loneliness that came before it and will come again after it. What I am trying to say, and hopefully succeeding, is that this poignant collection is not a three-hankie weepy that will send you to your GP begging for Zoloft. If this were a movie, I’d say it was the “Feel Good Picture of the Year.” Imagine looking out a window and being able to see all your most pleasant memories
you see the sunlight, you hear your own laughter, the scent of summer rain is in the air. Life is good. Even when things go horribly wrong and your food stamps have run out and there aren’t any returnable bottles to collect and a family of raccoons has decided to winter inside the walls of your home – life is good. Here’s a sample from a piece called
"Men and Geese":
“A lady in middle age finds herself kneeling in front of her herb garden, calculating the percentage of the American population which is of the appropriate gender, age, and availability to become the object of her inchoate romantic longings. And how many of that small number are likely to find her remotely attractive. It is a discouraging math problem.” Wasserman then goes on to describe an encounter with her neighbour’s amorous male goose. A word of advice: never smile at a male goose in the springtime, especially it you are on your knees.
There are many gems; a few of my favourites are "Side Chairs," "Burning Brush,"
"Little Frieda" and "The ATM." I enjoyed this book so much I’m giving it four stars out of five. Put this book on your gift list for someone special. You.