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Pondlife: A Swimmer's Journal by [Alvarez, Al]
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Pondlife: A Swimmer's Journal Kindle Edition

4.4 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews

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Length: 289 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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Product Description

Review

The adrenalin still flows in lively extracts from 11 years of journals (The Times)

A beautiful unfolding of a story, told in deceptively simple prose but with a great power to move (Sunday Times)

A marvellous book. Even the title Pondlife is spot-on: unlaboured, light and right. But it has no business to be as invigorating and absorbing - its success is against the odds (Observer)

Al Alvarez is a writer's writer whose brilliant insight has illuminated everything from suicide to his love of poker ... A miniature classic of a man's defiant assertion against ageing (Metro)

Book Description

From the author of The Savage God, a unique memoir of growing old, and a lesson in not going gently into that good night

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1028 KB
  • Print Length: 289 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1408841002
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing; 1 edition (14 Feb. 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00AZVZ6AI
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #209,959 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
wonderful celebration of life which is beautifully written in measured tones which never rush or hurry but simply enjoy the moment and make you slow down as well to appreciate the changing seasons and the passing of the year.

I do feel great special empathy with this book as I lived for a while in a flat backing on the ponds in Hampstead and now, following an illness, swim several times a week,sadly in a municipal pool, but still manage to find it very life affirming - something which is a real joy in this book as despite the passing years and irritating health issues, it all becomes somewhat irrelevant when confronted with the determination to just keep doing.

So, even if London is a foreign land and you hate swimming I am sure you will find plenty in this book to svour at a leisurely pace just don't expect anything dramatic to happen but that is rather the point that we should all fave time to stand and stare
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Al Alvarez, Pondlife: A Swimmer's Journal

Albert Alvarez (A or Al Alvarez) is known mainly as a poetry critic, anthologist and novelist, but none of this would be apparent from this recent journal, which deals with his daily routine of swimming in the Hampstead and Highgate ponds. We learn a good deal about the vagaries of English weather, the various waterfowl that visit or are resident on the ponds and the fact that our author is an ardent poker player, but literary talk is kept to a minimum. The prose is disarmingly simple, largely restricted to facts about wildlife, the changing seasons and their effect on the writer. Hence on Saturday 10 May, 2008, after recuperating from a stroke: `A beautiful summer day - almost a week of them in fact - but better than summer because it's the beginning of May and everything is suddenly in bloom. The mayflowers are heavy with blossom and the chestnuts with candles, Queen Anne's lace is waist high, the great copper beech shines and shimmers with light, the air smells sweet and the whole world is green and young and fresh.'

The ponds, especially in winter, are frequently seen as a Paradise, and the daily swim, which becomes increasingly difficult for the geriatric Alvarez, is essential to his bodily and spiritual well-being. But this is a story not only about the delights of moving in water, but about the process of growing old, of facing up to failing powers and the author's ultimate demise.. With his eye open and his senses alert, Alvarez has described the water, the air and the natural world supported by these elements with precision and accuracy. Nature, especially water, has kept Alvarez literally and spiritually afloat in a world that is beautiful but sad - at least to we humans.
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Format: Hardcover
Al Alvarez sounds like a lovely man and he certainly knows how to turn a lovely sentence. This is a diary of his almost daily swims in Hampstead's ponds. Oh, how he loves them! Now in his eighties, Al Alvarez mourns the passing of the years but enjoys the passing of his days. The birds and haughty swans, the spring flowers, the people he meets, even the ice-cold water. Especially the ice-cold water. He recalls winning and losing poker hands at the Vic on the nights before his swims. He talks a little about his friends and family, his house in Italy. I found myself thinking of Sinatra singing "Oh it's a long, long time...from May to September." I found myself thinking of a lot of things actually. Youth, aging, how on earth this man could swim in the Hampstead pond throughout the winter, whether he knew my late father who also played poker at the Vic. I could perhaps have done with a nod to the narrative arc, but that's just me. And I wish I could write like him.
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Format: Hardcover
Excellent. Getting older? Read this book, It is perhaps a slow book, perhaps seemingly repetitive to some readers but its written by an older author as his life carries on at his pace. (Indeed my pace). It all comes together very well at the end. It is not a page turner so best read slowly a bit at a time. I felt quite at ease with this -the meaning of life takes a while to work out. This is not some philosophical 'what is life' book. Of course knowing the Hampstead area, the Heath and the Heath Ponds is an extra bonus but in no way detracts. But you come always come and visit. I'm glad I read this and pleased
I read it at the pace it was written.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Good humour with flashes of real insight. Nuanced descriptions of the change of seasons and coping with the inevitable physical burdens of getting older. A great example of the journal genre, like a relaxing friend to read.
Its also a book you can just dip into!
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I loved this book, a look at nature and an honest account on aging. As a veteran athlete I could empathise with the need to keep the body moving - however difficult that might be. Sad when I finished the book - always a good sign!
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