Moments with a Mermaid

The Mermaid Girl: A Story, by Erika Swyler, (St. Martin’s Press), 33 pages print length—sold as an electronic single, release date 3 May, 2016

This time last year, I was reading Erika Swyler’s first novel, The Book of Speculation, savoring its mix of the magical and the everyday. In May, when St. Martin’s released Swyler’s The Mermaid Girl as an electronic single, I welcomed the opportunity to settle back into the kind of world Swyler creates. The problem was that The Mermaid Girl didn’t last long enough to allow for settling in. The main character was interesting—melancholy, torn between family life and her former live as a carnival mermaid—but the story felt more like a deleted chapter from The Book of Speculation than like a work in its own right. If you’ve already read The Book of Speculation and are waiting for Swyler’s next novel, The Mermaid Girl can provide you with a little something to tide you over. If you haven’t read The Book of Speculation, start with that more fully fleshed work, then move on to The Mermaid Girl if you find yourself wanting more afterwards.

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