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on 2 November 2011
While many father memoirs are remarkable for their inventive excellence, few are as original and as powerful as Swing Low. In Swing Low: A Life, Miriam Toews imagines herself into her father's head, and brings him back to life as a narrative "I." Her imaginative accomplishment is all the more remarkable in that her father suffered from bipolar disease throughout his life, and eventually his depression became so deep and his mind so confused that that he committed suicide by stepping in front of a train. Such a story would be horrific and depressing, if it weren't for the calmness of the narrative voice. Toews' father was a Mennonite living and teaching in a small Manitoba town, and in her rendering of her father's interior life Toews also explores the tensions between self and community and teases out "the complicated kindness" which makes those tensions almost bearable. Despite the father's mental illness and suicide, Swing Low is a wonderfully sane and life affirming book.

Fathers: A Literary Anthology
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on 15 August 2015
Loved it - slightly claustrophobic but I think this is how Miriam Toews sees life and writes it but overall a very moving account of a life.
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on 4 September 2014
Incredibly poignant. An excellent insight the suffering of mental health illness causes.
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