15.17 William Maxwell They Came Like Swallows

ISBN 13: 9780679772576

They Came Like Swallows

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9780679772576: They Came Like Swallows

     To eight-year old Bunny Morison, his mother is an angelic comforter in whose absence nothing is real or alive.  To his older brother, Robert, his mother is someone he must protect, especially since the deadly, influenza epidemic of 1918 is ravaging their small Midwestern town.  To James Morison, his wife, Elizabeth, is the center of a life that would disintegrate all too suddenly were she to disappear. 
   Through the eyes of these characters, William Maxwell creates a sensitive portrait of an American family and of the complex woman who is its emotional pillar.  Beautifully observed, deftly rendering the civilities and constraints of a vanished era, They Came Like Swallows measures the subterranean currents of love and need that run through all our lives.  The result confirms Maxwell's reputation as one of the finest writers we have.

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Review:

In the Morison house the important goes unsaid and indirection is the operative mode--conversation stops where it should start and key terms such as fear, pain, pregnancy, fail to be addressed. The younger son, an eight-year-old, passes his days deciphering adults' inaccessible discussions. "In this fashion they communicated with each other, out of knowledge and experience inaccessible to Bunny. By nods and silences. By a tired curve of his mother's mouth. By his father's measuring glance over the top of his spectacles." Bunny's older brother would rather escape to the outside world, and their father finds declaiming the day's headlines--World War I's end and the onslaught of Spanish Influenza--far preferable to engagement. Only Elizabeth, their mother, is capable of holding the family together. The fifth main character in They Came Like Swallows is the house itself. Maxwell expresses the boys' reactions through this labile, interior landscape. Bunny finds the dining room can be "braced and ready for excitement"; later his brother realizes "for the first time how still the house was, how full of waiting, ... tense and expectant." Though war never makes it to Illinois, the flu changes all. First Bunny is stricken, and once he recovers Elizabeth, pregnant, dies from it. In quiet, piercing prose, William Maxwell's second novel, originally published in 1937, evokes the greatest of losses and the terrors of imagination.

From the Back Cover:


"By the time his second novel, They Came Like Swallows, appeared in 1937, it was clear that William Maxwell was a special and wonderful gift to American fiction. It may be the definitive American novel about a child's relationship to his mother--a subject so obvious, and crucial, that it is rarely handled.... The least flashy of writers, a writer's writer, [Maxwell] is controlled and reserved, and yet magical at the same time. He [is] a master of fiction."


--Howard Moss

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Book Description Random House USA Inc, United States, 1997. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Reprint. Language: English . Brand New Book. First published in 1937, They Came Like Swallows was William Maxwell s second novel. It tells of an ordinary American family overtaken by the devastating epidemic of the Spanish influenza of 1918. The book begins on the day before the armistice in a small midwestern town, and the events are seen from the perspective, in turn, of eight-year-old Peter Morison - called Bunny; of his older brother, Robert; and of their father. They are witnesses to a domestic tragedy that is written with beauty and a quite magnificent tenderness. Bookseller Inventory # AAS9780679772576

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Book Description Random House USA Inc, United States, 1997. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Reprint. Language: English . Brand New Book. First published in 1937, They Came Like Swallows was William Maxwell s second novel. It tells of an ordinary American family overtaken by the devastating epidemic of the Spanish influenza of 1918. The book begins on the day before the armistice in a small midwestern town, and the events are seen from the perspective, in turn, of eight-year-old Peter Morison - called Bunny; of his older brother, Robert; and of their father. They are witnesses to a domestic tragedy that is written with beauty and a quite magnificent tenderness. Bookseller Inventory # AAS9780679772576

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Book Description Random House USA Inc, United States, 1997. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Reprint. Language: English . This book usually ship within 10-15 business days and we will endeavor to dispatch orders quicker than this where possible. Brand New Book. First published in 1937, They Came Like Swallows was William Maxwell s second novel. It tells of an ordinary American family overtaken by the devastating epidemic of the Spanish influenza of 1918. The book begins on the day before the armistice in a small midwestern town, and the events are seen from the perspective, in turn, of eight-year-old Peter Morison - called Bunny; of his older brother, Robert; and of their father. They are witnesses to a domestic tragedy that is written with beauty and a quite magnificent tenderness. Bookseller Inventory # BTE9780679772576

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