Daily Archives: July 16, 2010

Grayson

Lynne Cox is the sort of person who makes you feel like you need to do more with your life. Not only has she set records for open-water swimming all over the world (beginning at the tender age of 14), she’s been inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame, and in her free time, she’s written two remarkable, best-selling books. One of them is Grayson. It is a thrilling adventure, a dear fable, and a remarkable true story, and it kind of makes me wonder what other tremendous things have happened to Lynne Cox that she just needs to write down.

Grayson isn’t a long book, which makes it perfect for reading in one sitting. (I did, and I think you will too). In the opening chapter, Cox describes a training swim she completed very early one morning when she was 17 years old. It was no ordinary swim because something was in the water with her, swimming close by. Something big. Turns out it was a baby gray whale who had lost his mother somewhere in the vast Pacific. The whole of the book focuses on Lynne’s experience swimming with Grayson, as she tried to help him to find his mother. It’s magic. Really. If you are at all inclined to enjoy an animal story, or you’re up for some brilliantly evocative nature-writing, this book is exactly what you need.

I was surprised by how suspenseful the first chapter was, given that I obviously knew what was swimming with her. It’s the strength of the writing. The author’s simple but flawless style and often poetic descriptions make you feel like you are right there in the ocean with her, seeing everything she saw, feeling it all. It is unbelievable that someone could have the mental and physical endurance to stay in 50-degree water for that length of time. You’ll be left in no doubt that Cox is a crazy/gusty individual, truly one of a kind. If you really want to get a sense of Cox’s unusually bold (some might say insane) sense of adventure, you have to pick up her first book, Swimming to Antarctica, another real eye-opener.

This great book will make you want to go swim in the ocean, or the less adventurous might choose to visit an aquarium. Grayson is an ode to nature’s mysteries and majesty, a moving small-scale portrait of the connection between humans and other creatures on Earth.

Grayson is published by Harcourt.

(This is cross-posted at Guys Lit Wire).