In the SCAQ Blog vernacular, "Matt Bondurant writes like a boss and he swims like a boss too!"
Matt Bondurant has been compared to several literary giants such as William Faulkner, Cormac McCarthy and others. Also of note, one of his novels, The Wettest Country, is being made into a major motion picture staring my favorite English actor, Tom Hardy, (Inception, Layer Cake.)
His open water resumé is just as stellar: Here is a guy that placed 2nd in the Beginish Island 4-Mile open water race in Ireland working out just three days a week.Tides in Ireland are not like the tides in California. When the tide goes out, you are 1/4-mile from where you started.
I am going to interview Matt and post his answers in the next day or so but best of all he let me reprint a excerpt from his new novel, THE NIGHT SWIMMER. You can get here at Amazon; (Note: I get no commission or royalty as is my policy and I was not paid or compensated in anyway to post my kind feelings toward this book.)
This work of Gothic fiction looks very promising and after reading this excerpt, I am going to tear into it this weekend.
Here we go, hope you enjoy
The BBC shipping report was clear that Friday morning. I ate a double breakfast of fried eggs and sausages washed down with a carafe of Eileen’s bitter coffee. I thought of my husband snoring through a hangover in a pile of blankets back on the mainland, his jug of filtered water and aspirin on the nightstand. The wind whistled thinly through the muslin curtains and my skin began to hum. I missed Fred. In my room I snapped on my solid orange tank suit then my jeans and sweater. Then in the kitchen I mixed up a protein shake in a squirt bottle and a thermos of chicken soup for O’Boyle to feed to me in the water. Eileen watched me curiously as she rucked the dishes and made tea for her husband reading the paper, the parlor fire crackling with fresh peat.
Out for a trek again, I said to her.
Ah, Eileen said, well enjoy it then.
Dinny’s boat was tied up at the quay, the motor running, the two of them sitting on the steps drinking tea out of large clamshells. Dinny’s boat was a short fishing trawler of the kind you see rotting in boatyards and harbors all around Ireland, chipped red and white paint, a short cabin to shelter in for sudden blows, a flat transom good for hauling up nets and traps.
What say we call it off, O’Boyle said. Instead go back to my caravan and have a few cans?
No way, I said. We have good weather.
The day was chilled and grey, but the seas running only a foot in the harbor, and the reports called for a calm, slightly overcast day, winds mostly westerly, which meant I would be fighting a headwind on the way out, but would be pushed in on the way back. O’Boyle poured some tea in a shell and held it out to me.
In honor of your voyage, he said. A shell for the maiden of the sea.
I drank a bit, it was gritty and sour, but tasty. I finished it off then drank from my water jug, loading up on fluids. When I disrobed O’Boyle turned away and shuffled the nautical charts but Dinny sat on the wooden stool that served as the captain’s chair and watched me, smoking a hand rolled cigarette, his face composed and serious. He tapped the ash on the deck, the white stubs of his fingers like grubs. His watch cap was cock-eyed and you could see the mottled remains of his ear, now just a swirl of scar tissue. He didn’t miss a bit of my preparations and I suppose it is possible that Dinny hadn’t seen a real woman this close to naked before.
I put on latex gloves and slathered myself with lanolin, getting it extra thick in my underarms and neck area where the chafing was worst, with a healthy dose between my legs. In the open ocean the sea-lice would try to burrow into your warm parts, and heavy lubricants kept them from attaching. I slipped on a “hothead” insulator cap and then a latex cap over that. Most people who drown on long ocean swims, such as the English Channel, die of hypothermia because their brain temperature drops. They feel fine; their mind is telling them they are okay, there isn’t much pain, and so they stay in the water until their body shuts down and they go under. I knew that my arms and legs would go numb as the blood retreated into my chest, but if I kept my head warm I would be less likely to suffer such dangerous delusions. It would take a lot longer for me to become hypothermic than most people, but that didn’t mean it couldn’t happen. There is a reason why far more people have reached the summit of Everest than have swam the English Channel. A dying mind is a strong magician, especially in the water. When I swam I paid attention, I listened to my body.
I hit my wristwatch chrono and dove into the harbor. O’Boyle and Dinny would lead the way, staying a bit off to my left so that I could see them in my normal left-side breathing pattern and so that I wouldn’t spend the whole swim eating diesel fumes.
I stroked out while Dinny drew the boat up ahead of me in position. At the harbor mouth I stopped for a moment and fixed Fastnet in my sightline. The sky over the lighthouse hung low with cirrus clouds, swirling like a river, heavy with rain. The swells were perhaps up to two feet and I could feel the gentle tug of the northern current. The water was cold enough that I would need to keep moving, so I motioned the boat on and started stroking, going into a five stroke breathing pattern, stretching it out and rolling my shoulders.
As I swam away from the island the water moved from soft jade to forest green. A quarter mile out of the harbor the visibility was shot, the water murky black speckled with particle matter, krill, and the occasional drifting wrack or other seaweed, solitary circular jellyfish doing their slow convulsions. I did the first mile in twenty minutes, which was a bit quick but I felt strong. I hit a few heavy patches of floating weed and at one point I had to climb up and crawl over the stuff, my body out of the water, shuffling along on my elbows and knees. On the boat O’Boyle was sitting in a folding chair drinking a can of beer. Dinny had a transistor radio tuned into a mainland pop station and the baleful anthems of Robbie Williams floated across the water, alternating with the crackling of the sea and the rushing sound of my own body.
When I reached the mile and a half mark I knew something was wrong. A warmth in the pit of my stomach, intestinal churning, and at first I thought I may have to endure the humiliation of an open-ocean defecation with O’Boyle and Dinny circling nearby. I wasn’t fatigued but my arms felt wooden and disconnected, and I started loosing my stroke count and my breathing became lopsided. I looked at my hands and they were still fleshy and pink. Flaming red meant the body was struggling to fight the cold, and white meant numbness and real danger. The lighthouse didn’t look any closer but that was a common optical illusion for open water swimming. The weather was good, the water conditions decent, I knew I wouldn’t get many chances. There was a gentle tug that pulled through the center of me, a subtle current that kept my arms moving, my eyes on Fastnet. I just had to keep going.
I passed into the second mile and over the deepest part of my swim and my visual perspective was shot. Occasional specks moved and darted in a way that suggested they were alive, but I had no way of knowing how close they were. My hands entered in front of my face like desperate white fish springing into the darkness. Despite this I knew the floor of ocean was dropping away, the spaces opening up, I felt it in my skin, in my heart. It even seemed like I could see that depth. It was a glorious feeling. I felt absurd, like a spider crawling across the back of an elephant.
The boat was still up ahead, though a bit too far away and fading to the left, the diesel engine chugging softly. O’Boyle and Dinny had their backs to me, looking over the other side, leaning over the gunwale, pointing at something in water. The boat continued on, now heading southerly, away from Fastnet. I couldn’t fathom what they could be looking at in the water, but to see them in that crappy little boat, bobbing on the sea, slowly tailing off to the south as the wheel spun freely, suddenly struck me as extremely poignant and sad. I clutched my knees and let myself float, head back, rising and falling with the swells.
After some time I opened my eyes and discovered I was closer to the lighthouse; the surf was pounding on the rocks and etched stone blocks of Fastnet, maybe a half-mile off. I figured I would just go on without O’Boyle and Dinny, get to the lighthouse and back on my own. The nausea was gone, and rather than fatigued I felt explosive and strong, and I powered up and over the swells. I felt like I was flying out of the water, my body rising, the fierce winds whisking under my belly and legs.
The sky and sea grew darker, the clouds roiling in formations over Fastnet, the beacon shining like an opening eye. The lighthouse, now the height of my forearm in front of me, seemed to move; the light wasn’t rotating anymore, rather the sea and all of its contents, including me, was rotating around it, as if the lighthouse was some kind of pivot around which the world turned. I spun around but the boat was nowhere in sight. I checked my watch and found that another hour had gone by, which was impossible. A sudden feeling of vertigo struck me, like I was standing at the edge of a great height, and when I looked down into the water I saw streams of light erupting from the bottom of the sea, like long strands of golden seaweed, thousands of feet down, pulsing with energy, winding their way up around my feet. I hung face down in the water like a limp marionette, watching. It was the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen.
Then I began to gag, and when I lifted my head I vomited a heavy gush of fluid which spread around me on the water like a golden moat. I was treading in a sparkling stew of light and shadow, wavering forms wending their way around me legs like ribbons of fluorescent life. This was when I became afraid. ...
Here is a link to Mat's personal site: [Link]