Swim for the Little One First is a dazzling new collection of twelve short fictions by the acclaimed fiction writer and prose stylist Noy Holland. The stories gathered in Swim for the Little One First vary in setting (Ecuador, Montana, Florida, the Berkshires, North Dakota, New Mexico, and California) and style (from the plainspoken to the fustian).
In “Milk River” a young girl whose mother has committed suicide and whose brother has gone off to war is left to tend to her ailing father; in “Today is an Early Out” a family finds itself caught in a mudslide in the Sierra Nevada; in “Merengue” a young couple takes up residence in a HUD hotel in Miami Beach, among the elderly living out their last days. In the title story a woman with young children addresses her father, who has come to visit, in theobdurate language of remorse. In “Pemmican” the author takes a comic approach to the telling of an absurd story about escaped pet mice surviving winter in a car. In these and seven other stories, Noy Holland, an author praised by writers and critics ranging from William H. Gass to Michiko Kakutani, presents readers with what Gass has described as “beautifully lyrical but bitter prose and . . . an ardent grimness of eye that is both unsettling and intensely satisfying.”