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A Swim in A Pond in the Rain

A Swim in A Pond in the Rain

In Which Four Russians Give A Master Class on Writing, Reading, and Life

Book - 2021
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In A Swim in a Pond in the Rain, George Saunders guides the reader through seven classic Russian short stories he's been teaching for twenty years as a professor in the prestigious Syracuse University graduate MFA creative writing program. Paired with stories by Chekhov, Turgenev, Tolstoy, and Gogol, these essays are intended for anyone interested in how fiction works and why it's more relevant than ever in these turbulent times. Saunders approaches each of these stories technically yet accessibly, and through them explains how narrative functions; why we stay immersed in a story and why we resist it; and the bedrock virtues a writer must foster. For the process of writing, Saunders reminds us, is as much a craft as it is a quality of openness and a willingness to see the world through new eyes. Funny, frank, and rigorous, A Swim in a Pond in the Rain ultimately shows how great fiction can change a person's life and become a benchmark of one's moral and ethical beliefs.


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Several of the members are enjoying reading this book, and then dipping back into Russian fiction. Highly recommended.

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May 07, 2021

~ 400 pages

May 06, 2021

Reading this book was like taking a course in the Russian short story by four classic Russian authors. I was not impressed with the author's short story selection which he used to give lengthy commenaries. If a story needs to be interpreted to its reader, isn't the writer falling down on his job? I didn't find the stories interesting despite the fact that they were written by Chekhov, Gogol, Tolstoy, Turgenev. George Saunders' commentary on each story is exhaustive and at times longer than the story itself.

JCLS_Ashland_Kristin Mar 08, 2021

While not every reader will find this book amazing, but it's a "must read" for every reader who loves short stories, the reading/writing process, and/or George Saunders. As with Lincoln in the Bardo, Mr. Saunders has gotten amazing audio book readers. He reads his own essays, but the short stories he discusses are each read by great readers, so it's also wonderful on audio.

DPLjennyp Feb 24, 2021

Loved it so much. The stories and Saunders's analysis of each. Total nerdy nirvana.

LCPL_Cathy Feb 12, 2021

George Saunders is a renowned author and a teacher of creative writing at Syracuse University. In his latest book, he offers a masterful discussion on how to read and write short stories. This book will prove invaluable for aspiring writers. I have no ambition there but still found the book immensely enjoyable. In the author’s witty and good-natured style, he explores the reasons why we like a story as well as insights into human nature. The book and the author are real treasures.


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LCPL_Cathy Feb 13, 2021

“The writer and the reader stand at either end of a pond. The writer drops a pebble in and the ripples reach the reader.”


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