Pondlife by Al Alvarez

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It is, in other words, a journal of leave-taking as well as "a swimmer's journal", and parts of it – especially in the second half – are sympathetic and touching.
-Guardian

Synopsis

The ponds of Hampstead Heath are small oases; fragments of wild nature nestled in the heart of north-west London. For the best part of his life Al Alvarez – poet, critic, novelist, rock-climber and poker player – has swum in them almost daily.

An athlete in his youth, Alvarez, now in his eighties, chronicles what it is to grow old with humour and fierce honesty – from his relentlessly nagging ankle which makes daily life a struggle, to infuriating bureaucratic battles with the council to keep his disabled person's Blue Badge, the devastating effects of a stroke, and the salvation he finds in the three Ss – Swimming, Sex and Sleep.

As Alvarez swims in the ponds he considers how it feels when you begin to miss that person you used to be – to miss yourself. Swimming is his own private form of protest against the onslaught of time; proof to others, and himself, that he's not yet beaten.

By turns funny, poetic and indignant, Pondlife is a meditation on love, the importance of life's small pleasures and, above all, a lesson in not going gently in to that good night.
 

About Al Alvarez

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Al Alvarez is a poet, novelist, literary critic, anthologist, and author of many highly praised non-fiction books on topics ranging from suicide, divorce and dreams - The Savage God, Life After Marriage, Night - to poker and mountaineering - The Biggest Game in Town and Feeding The Rat. His most recent books are Where Did It All Go Right?, The Writer's Voice and Risky Business. He lives in Hampstead, London.
 
Published February 14, 2013 by Bloomsbury Publishing. 289 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Literature & Fiction. Non-fiction
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Critic reviews for Pondlife
All: 2 | Positive: 2 | Negative: 0

Guardian

Good
Reviewed by Kate Kellaway on Feb 17 2013

Al Alvarez's swimmer's diary, describing his all-year-round swimming in the outdoor ponds on Hampstead Heath, north London, is a marvellous book.

Read Full Review of Pondlife | See more reviews from Guardian

Guardian

Above average
Reviewed by Andrew Motion on Feb 01 2013

It is, in other words, a journal of leave-taking as well as "a swimmer's journal", and parts of it – especially in the second half – are sympathetic and touching.

Read Full Review of Pondlife | See more reviews from Guardian

Reader Rating for Pondlife
80%

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