An immediate classic when first published in Redbook in 1975, Swimmer in the Secret Sea went on to be included in Prize Stories 1975: The O. Henry Awards and then published separately as a paperback. We are proud to restore to print this popular and critically acclaimed novella about Laski and Diane, a sculptor and his wife, and their struggle to bring a new life into the world, set against the backdrop of a cold Maine winter. Author William Kotzwinkle, well-known for his many enduring children’s books such as Trouble in Bugland and his novelization of the movie E.T. The Extraterrestrial, is equally adept at writing seriously and poetically about life in extremis. This story of a father-to-be and his painful love for his wife and stillborn son will stay with readers for a lifetime.
Praise for Swimmer in the Secret Sea:
This is a little book with the largest of themes: birth and death. William Kotzwinkle, a writer with an original bent for wildly funny imagery, gives the reader nothing to laugh about here. Instead, he follows the struggle of an infant to be born-from the first womb contraction through a breech delivery. To tell precisely what happens to Diane, the mother, Johnny, the father, and to their infant son would be like paraphrasing a poem. Suffice it to say that Kotzwinkle projects powerful feelings of love and loss. “Swimmer in the Secret Sea” appeared first in Redbook and was among the O. Henry Prize stories of 1975. It is good to see that it has achieved a life of its own.
—New York Times Book Review
Swimmer in the Secret Sea is a deeply moving book. The textures of its delicately conveyed anguish, love, reverence, acceptance, simplicity make its grief all the more stunning. The brief cycle of a baby’s life-labor, delivery, death, burial-in the snow-covered isolation of a Northern landscape is the substance of an acute reading experience that a lesser writer might have made maudlin. The novella first appeared in a magazine, later was an O. Henry Award winner in “Prize Stories 1975,” and now it’s given the prominence it deserves with this separate publication.
I could not leave this story…. Swimmer in the Secret Sea reveals a depth of emotion and an immensity of feeling seldom seen in American writers today.
—San Francisco Review of Books