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Book does swimmingly

April 4, 2014

Monmouth College had the pleasure of hosting author David McGlynn for a book talk in the Morgan Room of Poling Hall on Wednesday. The subject for the night was McGlynn’s most recent book “A Door in the Ocean.”  His work can be found in notable publications, such as the Huffington Post, Men›s Health, Image and Best American Sports Writing. McGinley, a University of South California (USC) graduate receiving his doctorate from Utah University and a professor at Lawrence University, is also an exceptionally capable swimmer.

“A Door in the Ocean” is centered on his life-long passion for swimming and how it influenced his life as well as inspired him to reach his goals. The book is not simply sports related, however. In fact, McGlynn’s story is framed by the mysterious murder of his best friend which, 22 years later, remains unsolved. Mystery, coming of age, spiritual quest and sports are all woven together by McGlynn’s clever and accessible use of simile and all around style.

McGlynn read various extended excerpts from “A Door in the Ocean,” centered mainly on competition. For him, competition was the glue that held his closest friendships together. “I could not imagine a life without competition…Swimming was the center of my college experience, it provided my tuition and social scene,” McGlynn said. Both of his roommates in college were swimmers, and he fondly recalls spending all of his time with them, sharing memories along with basically everything they owned. “We sang on the bus together to meets, we wrestled on the carpet of our apartment and rode our bicycles to workout at 5:30 in the morning, when the rest of the campus was tucked away in amber drowsiness…but beneath this wonder was a constant state of competition.” This focal point was a kind of confirmation of friendship for McGlynn. The intense and genuine hate expressed when losing at something so important was a complete contrast to the fraternal aspect of close friendship. While they shared so many wonderful experiences, the bad ones were always more memorable. “I felt closest to them in hatred, because I knew the memory was genuine.” The anger and hatred didn’t define their friendship; how they were able to rise from that moment and remain friends, strengthening their bond, did.

When speaking with McGlynn, he had mentioned that while swimming has been and always will be an essential part of his life, his writing and accomplishments in literature will be his proudest moments. “Writing is what defines me. The proudest moments I have ever had were the ones when I look at my book and say ‘it’s done.’ Not even when the bound and published books come in or if something I published wins an award. It’s when I finally say I’m finished and I can walk my dog with a sort of sense of lightness.”

Ross Eugene
Contributing Writer

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