The River Swimmer

  • by Jim Harrison
  • Narrated by Traber Burns
  • 5 hrs and 5 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Jim Harrison is one of America’s most beloved and critically acclaimed authors, and this collection of novellas is Harrison at his most memorable - a brilliant rendering of two men striving to find their way in the world, written with freshness, abundant wit, and profound humanity.
In "The Land of Unlikeness", 60-year-old art history academic Clive - a failed artist, divorced and grappling with the vagaries of his declining years - reluctantly returns to his family’s Michigan farmhouse to visit his aging mother. The return to familiar territory triggers a jolt of renewal - of ardor for his high school love, of his relationship with his estranged daughter, and of his own lost love of painting. In the title story, "The River Swimmer", Harrison ventures into the magical as an Upper Peninsula farm boy is irresistibly drawn to the water as an escape and sees otherworldly creatures there. Faced with the injustice and pressure of coming of age, he takes to the river and follows its siren song all the way across Lake Michigan.
The River Swimmer is a striking portrait of two richly drawn, profoundly human characters and an exceptional reminder of why Jim Harrison is one of the most cherished and important writers at work today.

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What the Critics Say

"One of America’s great literary treasures, Harrison delivers not one but two works: ‘The Land of Unlikeness', in which a washed-up 60-year-old academic returns to his Michigan home for renewal, and [‘The River Swimmer’], in which an Upper Peninsula farm boy sees ghostly creatures in the waters of the nearby lake. Magic realism à la Harrison?" (Library Journal)
"The two novellas that constitute Harrison’s fine new collection are, as usual, quite different in scope and content…each striking in their own ways, rich and satisfying." (Publishers Weekly)
"Though these two novellas feel slight in comparison with the best of the prolific author’s novels, the ways in which they complement and contrast with each other attest to his range.… Everyday epiphanies from a major author." (Kirkus Reviews)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Mixed experience

There are some beautiful passages and images of nature. Sort of a strange story that doesn't have a solid plot line. Narrator has an almost sarcastic tone and is not very good at women's voices, but has a certain dignity that gives the book strength. Parts of story are magical realism and parts are gritty human interaction, some quite violent. It both frustrated and amazed my and was ultimately worth listening to.
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- Doctor George

Get into the River and let the current do the rest

If you could sum up The River Swimmer in three words, what would they be?

Liquid, Libations, Life,


What other book might you compare The River Swimmer to and why?

Siddhartha, ? The journey, but with the substance of body, surprises and desire, getting you down the river of life, not abstinence and suffering


What does Traber Burns bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

His absolute guy voice


If you could take any character from The River Swimmer out to dinner, who would it be and why?

The Painter Suzanne


Any additional comments?

If you have ever loved rivers and lakes, its a great trip !

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- Cre

Book Details

  • Release Date: 01-08-2013
  • Publisher: Blackstone Audio, Inc.