Chenia Arnow is a Russian-Jewish immigrant in 1950s New York, a sharp-witted, Betty Grable look-alike whose accent and Old-World superstitions mask untapped passions and intellectual curiosity. Her husband Ruben is a handsome philanderer who has a knack for creating phony lawsuits. Their precocious daughter Devorah, tells–and often imagines–the richly involving story of their lives.
No one expects the devoted Chenia to fall under the spell of a lover of her own, but the Arnows' lives unfold in many surprises. In tart and seductive storytelling, Swimming Toward the Ocean follows husbands and wives and children through often shifting and misguided connections, illuminating the timeless patterns of immigrant life, and the search for love and a place in a new world.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
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|Title of eBook: Swimming Toward the Ocean|
|Release Date: 12-18-2007|
|Allowed Countries (hover)|
|Publisher: Knopf Publishing Group|
This eBook download is available in the following formats:
|Parent title||Swimming Toward the...|
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Swimming Toward the Ocean
The night before she goes into labor, my mother dreams she is giving birth. The doctor says, "Stop! The baby isn't ready." She tells the doctor, "It's too late."
Cradled in her hand is a porcelain doll, a young woman with little breasts and a matted mop of long red hair. The features are exquisite. Long, silky eyelashes. There is nail polish on the tiny toenails. "How many ounces?" my mother asks.
A woman in the next bed says to her, "Don't worry. They'll keep her under glass." Unseen people are screaming "Hooray, hooray!"
My mother realizes she is at the Steeplechase, and she is part of the show. The audience has watched her give birth. The baby is behind the glass now, lined up with the others. My mother bangs on the window. "Forget it," a man says. "She'll be safe here."
My mother wakes up in a sweat, feels for her belly, which is still huge. She hears my father whistling through his nose. In the dark she lies on her back, trying to figure what the dream is telling her. Is the baby dead?
Then she recalls the Incubators. She had wandered in, off the Boardwalk. Everyone was talking about them after the World's Fair. This wonderful doctor, saving the preemies. Maybe it's worth twenty cents, she thought. She didn't know then she was pregnant with her first child.
She was surprised when she saw them, lined up in rows of incubators. She thought preemies meant freaks, but they looked exactly like ordinary babies, only much smaller. Two pounds, most of them. The place was like a little hospital, with nurses in uniforms. The lecture they gave was very interesting, how they put oxygen into the preemies' lungs,...