The Swan

The Swan

A Novel
Jim Cohee
Distribution: World
Publication date: 7/29/2011
Format: paper 136 pages
5 x 7
ISBN: 978-0-253-22343-2
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Ten-year-old Aaron Cooper has witnessed the death of his younger sister, Pookie, and the trauma has left him unwilling to speak. Aaron copes with life's challenges by disappearing into his own imagination, envisioning being captain of the Kon Tiki, driving his sled in the snowy Klondike, and tiger hunting in India. He is guarded by secret friends like deposed Hungarian Count Blurtz Shemshoian and Blurtz's wonder dog, Nipper, who protect him from the creature from the Black Lagoon—who hides in Aaron's closet at night. The tales he constructs for himself, the real life stories he is witness to, and his mother's desperate efforts to bring her son back from the brink, all come to a head at an emotional family dinner. Set in Indianapolis in 1957, The Swan is a fictional memoir about enduring love and the weighty nature of mortality.

Author Bio

Jim Cohee is a freelance writer, based in San Francisco, who has written for Lonely Planet. The Swan is his first novel.


"It's all there: eloquence, comedy, a childhood effectively captured, seriousness, an eccentric intelligence. The Swan delights." —William O'Rourke, author of On Having a Heart Attack: A Medical Memoir

"The brilliant stutter-stepping and jump-cutting expertly mimic the mind of a ten-year-old, and the basic irony is stunning—that a verbally pyrotechnic book should be uttered by a mute boy." —Michael Martone, editor of Not Normal, Illinois: Peculiar Fictions from the Flyover

"Nothing short of dazzling." —Linda Niemann, author of Railroad Noir

"Lively, entertaining, funny, and often moving." —Scott Russell Sanders, author of A Conservationist Manifesto

"The Swan is a story of childhood and a family's tenuous hold on everything that once seemed solid to them. Jim Cohee's lyrical and expertly crafted prose weaves a tale that is enchanting, hilarious, heartbreaking, and uplifting. A young boy's fantasies and his resistance to the circumstances of his family weaves this story of loss and the transcendence of the human spirit. It reminds us how noble and resilient we can be." —Lee Martin, Author of The Bright Forever and River of Heaven

"Gorgeous and surprising." —Susan Neville, author of Sailing the Inland Sea

"Alternately funny, entertaining, and heartbreaking, The Swan is a fictional memoir about love, death and what a family can—and cannot—endure." —Publishers Weekly

"A surreal study of a grief observed indirectly, The Swan serves as a testament to the unbridled power of childhood vision, even and especially in the wake of tragedy." —Bloom Magazine

"This is the principle pleasure of reading The Swan: Cohee delights in word play and humor that points to larger thematic concerns regarding the family's rift in the wake of a child's death." —

"There's something ironic, compelling, and deeply sad about hearing a story of mortality and unspeakable loss unfold in the chirpy, attention-deficit, occasionally hilarious voice of a fourth-grader. . . . The voice isn't a gimmick —it's the point of the book, and it works brilliantly." — , 9/14/2011

"Funny, poignant and as endearing as its central character,
The Swan is a wholly original tribute to childhood resilience." —San Jose Mercury News

"Had Kurt Vonnegut, William Saroyan, J.D. Salinger, Carlos Castaneda, Raymond Carver and James Thurber ever gathered at a writer's workshop to co-author a short novel, the product might well have been The Swan." —Terre Haute Tribune Star

"The secret protectors and spymasters who populate Aaron's disintegrating world in Cohee's The Swan are equally funny and heartbreaking. I've already reread this outstanding first novel." —Wapsipinicon Almanac

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