Largely an exploration of the memory work of memoirists, it might lack thrust if Rock didn’t so beautifully layer vivid details into scenes that seem more conjured than written. This genre-bending autobiographical novel occasionally spends too long in dreamland with the narrator, who uses a faculty grant to float in an isolation tank as part of a book project. But these overly dreamy sections are only short digressions in an undeniably lovely novel.
This novel has as many layers, drop-offs, storms, wrecks and submerged themes as the great Lake Michigan itself. In the afterword, Rock thanks his editor for urging him to 'make it wilder, not to tame it.' It’s a grand chance to go along on an intensely personal journey into the mind and past of an accomplished writer.
Part page-turner and part aesthetic treatise, Rock’s latest is, like the currents of the Great Lakes, subtle and haunted, deeply complex and 'quietly…sinister'; his readers, like his swimmers, ought to know 'that the currents of the subsurface are likely to be moving.'