Swimming Studies

Leanne Shapton

Swimming Studies

As a teenager, Leanne Shapton trained for the Olympic swimming trials; now an artist, she is still drawn inexorably to swimming, in pools and on beaches across the world. What do you with an all-absorbing activity once it's past its relevance, and yet you can't quite give it up? Is it possible to find a new purpose for its rigours and focus? Swimming Studies is an original, meditative work that explores what it is like to move from a world of competition and discipline to one of recreation and introspection. Giving a glimpse into the private realms of swimming, and drawing, Shapton tells an intimate story of suburban adolescence, family ties, and the solitary underwater moments that now ground her artistic habits. 3.3 out of 5 based on 5 reviews
Swimming Studies

Omniscore:

Classification Non-fiction
Genre Sports, Hobbies & Games, Biography
Format Hardback
Pages 320
RRP
Date of Publication July 2012
ISBN 978-0399158179
Publisher Blue Rider Press
 

As a teenager, Leanne Shapton trained for the Olympic swimming trials; now an artist, she is still drawn inexorably to swimming, in pools and on beaches across the world. What do you with an all-absorbing activity once it's past its relevance, and yet you can't quite give it up? Is it possible to find a new purpose for its rigours and focus? Swimming Studies is an original, meditative work that explores what it is like to move from a world of competition and discipline to one of recreation and introspection. Giving a glimpse into the private realms of swimming, and drawing, Shapton tells an intimate story of suburban adolescence, family ties, and the solitary underwater moments that now ground her artistic habits.

Read an extract from the book | Guardian

Reviews

The Observer

Kate Kellaway

The book is governed by what at first seems like randomness but she shows how chance juxtapositions make new unities – an artist's intelligence at work. It is also in London that she walks into a cake shop and orders a "lemon olive-oil cake, shiny yellow with amber edges, flecked with spiky rosemary". The cake is delicious, she begs for the recipe – is refused. Back in New York, she experiments with reproducing the cake. "Close, but off…" is her verdict. This describes her swimming life too. This is a book full of yearning – a famished narrative – the cake a symbol for a vaster appetite.

22/07/2012

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The Times

Janice Turner

It is a serious and finely textured account of the training, tedium and constant pain a swimmer must endure, told with the originality and playfulness of an artist ... She shares Dave Eggers’ talent for taking the mundane and making it viscerally new.

14/07/2012

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The New York Times

Dwight Garner

Some readers may find that Swimming Studies verges on the precious. It’s an adorable book, self-consciously so, a boutique item that cries out to be sold on Etsy and next to the garlic scapes at organic farmers’ markets … Ms. Shapton is so smart and so likable that you will pass her book along to the swimmers in your life.

16/07/2012

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The New Yorker

Books Briefly Noted

… her honed attention to detail gives the reader the sensation of watching a meticulous mind watching itself, down to the hundreth of a second.

30/07/2012

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The Financial Times

Simon Kuper

Her meandering memories are finely written yet overwhelmingly self-absorbed. Not all her thoughts from the pool are enlightening: “Lap 42, shopping: the dusty beige-pink colour of a pair of trousers I saw in Berlin but could not afford.” The prose is often faux-weighty: “I look in the mirror at my reflection, the red goggle marks around my eyes. I cover my wet hair with a hat, leave.” So entranced is Shapton with her own art that when she meets Lucian Freud in a restaurant, she shows him her drawings. Yet this is self-absorption without much disclosure: an undramatic life, barely examined. Still, there are moments of truth.

06/07/2012

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