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Life with Swan: A Novel

West, Paul

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ISBN 10: 0684848643 / ISBN 13: 9780684848648
Verlag: Scribner, New York, NY, 1999
Gebraucht Zustand: Very Good Hardcover
Verkäufer Robinson Street Books, IOBA (Binghamton, NY, USA)

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0684848643 Very good in Very good dust jacket. First Edition. Quality, Value, Experience. Media Shipped in New Boxes. Buchnummer des Verkäufers BING7768912

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Bibliografische Details

Titel: Life with Swan: A Novel

Verlag: Scribner, New York, NY

Erscheinungsdatum: 1999

Einband: Hardcover

Zustand:Very Good

Zustand des Schutzumschlags: Dust Jacket Included

Auflage: 1st Edition

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In this remarkable roman à clef, Paul West transcribes and transforms his own life and love with captivating eloquence. Recounting his now-quarter-century union with Swan (poet and naturalist Diane Ackerman) with wit and tenderness, the narrator re-creates their times together and their friendship with Raoul Bunsen -- a Carl Sagan-like character.

Meeting Bunsen turns out to be one of the most fortunate events of their shared lives, for he fans the couple's passion for all things astronomical. Through Bunsen's connections, they are invited to behind-the-scenes looks at momentous shuttle launches at Cape Canaveral and cosmic discoveries at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena -- experiences that prove creatively inspiring for them both. Their agony and elation over the failures and successes they witness are told with a breathtaking precision that illuminates the space program while bringing to it a rare humanity.

This is a story about a deep and honest love that burns undaunted, whether suffering the hilarious indignities and excesses of ivy-covered academia or the highs and lows of coming face-to-face with our galaxy. Haunted by astronomy, these literary lovers forge a bond that transcends the divide between art and science.

West's prose burns with emotion and passion, building over the course of the book to a majestic conclusion. Life with Swan is a unique and poignant novel that touches the heart, engages the mind, and stirs the soul.


Paul West is a writer so in love with the sound of his own voice that sometimes he loses track of what he's trying to say. Take, for example, the opening sentence of Life with Swan, a fictionalized account of his courtship of and marriage to Diane Ackerman--Ariada Mencken in the novel:

A puberty ago, I watched from my office window one afternoon as she descended into baking sunlight on the library steps in a Spanish-looking straw hat (Eton boating style), drape-swinging her legs in polychrome-striped bell-bottoms, behind her the terminal moraine of black hair that set her out from the crowd since she was ten.
Readers who get through this description unscathed will soon find themselves up against shuddering orgasms, neuter rhapsodies, and "a stained-glass window arranged on a dangling penis," to name just a few more metaphors contained within the same paragraph. And so it goes for 300 pages.

But there is a story lurking beneath all this verbiage. West chronicles his quarter-century relationship with his wife, beginning with their first meeting when "Ariada" is his student in a 20th-century British fiction class and continuing through their friendship with astronomer Carl Sagan--here disguised as Raoul Bunsen. Love, belles lettres, and the stars afford West plenty of scope for his wild flights of lyricism and even wilder forays into introspection. Life with Swan may well appeal to readers who enjoy free-flying prose; for those who prefer their novels less acrobatic, however, it could prove an exhausting read. --Alix Wilber

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