Cheever’s ‘The Swimmer’ Focus of WT’s Great Books Series in November

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CANYON, Texas — A classic tale with a confounding ending will butterfly back into the spotlight for the November edition of West Texas A&M University’s Great Books series.

Dr. Eric Meljac, assistant professor of English, will lead the discussion of John Cheever’s “The Swimmer” at 7 p.m. Nov. 8 via Zoom.

The discussion series — sponsored by the Department of English, Philosophy and Modern Languages —is open to those who either have or haven’t read the book, said Dr. Daniel Bloom, Great Books organizer and associate professor of philosophy.

Meljac said “The Swimmer” appealed to him because he appreciates stories that don’t follow traditional narrative trajectories.

“In many ways, ‘The Swimmer’ reminds me of the films of David Lynch, which begin seemingly normal but end with a completely baffling closure,” Meljac said. “Whenever Lynch is asked why his work doesn’t make sense, his reply goes along the lines of ‘I don’t know why people want art to make sense when life itself doesn’t make sense.’ That’s how Cheever’s story seems to me.

“It’s about a life,” Meljac continued. “But in a way, it doesn’t make much sense in any immediate way. I love such challenging art—art that forces us to situate ourselves in a sense of discomfort and forces us to reckon with what it might be trying to say to us.”

“The Swimmer” originally was scheduled for the September installment but had to be rescheduled due to technical complications.

WT professors and guest lecturers lead the monthly Great Books discussions.

The series began in 2011 and is traditionally held on the second Tuesday of the month; a return to in-person meetings at Burrowing Owl Books, 7406 S.W. 34th Ave., Suite 2B, in Amarillo, is expected to occur in January.

To register for the November discussion, email Dr. Patricia Tyrer at [email protected].

The series is one way in which WT serves the region by offering engagement with a variety of literary and philosophical texts. Being a learner-centered university is a key principle of the University’s long-range plan, WT 125: From the Panhandle to the World.

That plan is fueled by the historic, $125 million One West comprehensive fundraising campaign. To date, the five-year campaign — which publicly launched Sept. 23 — has raised more than $110 million.

 

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