Swimmers in the Sea is a fiercely imagined novel by a newcomer to be watched. Author Denzil Strickland takes calamity and unflinchingly peels back the layers in this thrilling literary debut about a man who travels to pre-Katrina New Orleans to receive an unlikely inheritance from his estranged and dying father-a one-armed portrait artist convicted of manslaughter for the accident that killed his own two children and a newlywed couple leaving their wedding. At the age of thirty, Cliff Ebbets is broke and living in North Carolina, his marriage failing, when he receives a call from a man named Don Willis, his father's live-in companion. Don beckons Cliff to New Orleans for an inheritance he won't specify. Desperate but circumspect about anything to do with his father, Cliff concedes and travels back to the home of his earliest memory. There, he meets his father's friends, men from the underbelly of New Orleans' Ninth Ward, who paint a picture of Cecil Ebbets that Cliff doesn't recognize. It's the same picture that the ghost of his dead sister Rachel is showing him. The twist in this tale of love and betrayal comes at the outset and wrings back and forth on itself throughout its telling. Swimmers in the Sea is a story about the other family and the son who inherits the sins of his father. It's the story of how the story of your life can change. Just like that.
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Advance Praise for Swimmers in the Sea:
"Swimmers in the Sea embodies contemporary writing at its best: clean, hard-edged, mysterious and moving. Denzil Strickland tells a gripping story of a man who needs to turn his life around NOW but can only do so through reconciliation and reinterpretation of his past - by understanding who his father is and his legacy. This novel has the classic lines of Hemingway but as much clout as Ian McEwan's Atonement.
Swimmers in the Sea is a stunning human and artistic achievement."
~ Sena Jeter Naslund, author of Four Spirits and Ahab's Wife
"Denzil Strickland's Swimmers in the Sea is a rollercoaster ride of a novel. It is compulsively readable, with vivid characters and a slow-burn tension that continues to build throughout this literary page-turner. Strickland has an amazing ear for dialogue and a keen eye for all the little details that paint a gritty, beautiful portrait of the damaged lives populating this book. This is a thrilling, moving novel, and I couldn't put it down."
~ Silas House, author of Clay's Quilt and The Coal Tattoo
"Swimmers in the Sea is one of the best novels I've read in several years, and I say that without qualification or reservation. I found Cliff's search for his father very compelling reading; once I started, I didn't want to stop. The quality of the writing is terrific, and the handling of the time sequences skillful. Because so much of the novel is memory, I found the non-linear plot appropriate and consistently interesting. The authenticity of the scene--New Orleans--is established with an astounding ease and authority for a first novel. (I am very familiar with New Orleans, and there is absolutely nothing in the novel that does not ring true.) The characters, a fascinating assortment, are sharply etched in the utilitarian prose that seems almost minimal at times; they are so fully rounded, however, that the reader cares a great deal about these people, every one of them. The ending is extremely powerful and moving, without an ounce of sentimentality, and the novel is ultimately exceptionally uplifting. This, in short, is the real thing; a novel that seems totally right in theme, character, style, honest of emotion, even length. I came away from it knowing it could not have been written any other way, by anybody other than the author, and that, I am certain, is a magnificent accomplishment."
~ William Cobb, author of A Walk Through Fire and Coming of Age at the Y
DENZIL STRICKLAND grew up in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. He graduated with a degree in English from George Peabody College.
His short stories have been published in literary journals and one was the recipient of a national Hackney Award. Swimmers in the Sea is his first novel.
He lives with his wife Carolyn and two young daughters in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, where he owns and operates Garage Branding, a graphic design firm.
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Book Description Press 53, 2008. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # M0981628028
Book Description Press 53, 2008. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Never used!. Bookseller Inventory # P110981628028