Swimming Studies

I don't think there has ever been a Leanne Shapton book I didn't love. From Was She Pretty (2006) to Important Artifacts and Personal Property from the Collection of Lenore Doolan and Harold Morris, Including Books, Street Fashion, and Jewelry (2009) to D+Q's own The Native Trees of Canada (2010), I fall for each and every one. Thankfully, for my own selfish enjoyment, the freshly released Swimming Studies does not disappoint.

A collection of autobiographical sketches, Swimming Studies is made up of short chapters of remembrances on her early days as a competing swimmer and ruminations on her current days as a casual swimmer. Shapton also includes a handful of dreamy watercolour drawings inserted sporadically throughout the book, visually plunging (sorry) the viewer into her world.

Elegant, thoughtful, and refreshing, this book is an ideal summer read. Much like how Italo Calvino affected me with his writings of Italian beaches in Difficult Loves (1949), Swimming Studies makes me want to spend the rest of these dog days deeply entrenched in the water.

To dip your feet a bit, so to speak, check out the Globe and Mail's excerpt of the book's early chapter Quitting. There is also a short but sweet interview with Shapton over at Cool Hunting.

And if you aren't yet convinced, here is what literary darling Sheila Heti has to say about the book: "Leanne Shapton writes with such curiosity, ruefulness, intelligence, and grace. Here is how the discipline of being an athlete can conditions one's ways of making art, and how the patience necessary to make art teaches other types of patience."

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