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A Door in the Ocean: A Memoir Hardcover – July 3, 2012


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Counterpoint; 1St Edition edition (July 3, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1582438293
  • ISBN-13: 978-1582438290
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.3 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,289,754 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

Praise for A Door in the Ocean

"Many of the key scenes in David McGlynn's striking new memoir, A Door in the Ocean, take place at the beach or in swimming pools…Ocean swimming, in particular, transports McGlynn to another realm, and he does a terrific job of dramatizing the allure of solitary swims in open water…McGlynn's writing, particularly about his long stint in the ranks of Christian fundamentalists, is alive with an insider's knowledge of the power and comforts — and, yes, sometimes delusions — offered by collective radical belief. In a larger sense, this is a compelling coming-of-age story, one marked by random tragedy and biblical tracts, bad church coffee and chlorine.” —Maureen Corrigan, NPR

"McGlynn is an astute observer of relationships, and proffers insightful commentary on the power of memory to simultaneously burden and enrich the present. Beyond that, the sheer ease of his prose and the honesty of his journey are enough to keep readers moved and moving."—Publishers Weekly

“The death of his friend is actually only the introduction of this big-hearted memoir, but it establishes two key elements that are crucial: McGlynn’s experience as a swimmer and an evangelical Christian. He writes eloquently about both, and offers keen insight into the worlds of each….What makes it a winner is its language and beauty.” —The Dallas Morning News

“David McGlynn wrestles with some of the same fierce angels that haunted his debut collection of short stories…Both books bear the mark of a serious craftsman; their paragraphs hold the reader with lyric and narrative power…McGlynn trades glorious and sorrowful mysteries for an adult and hard-won faith in God’s merciful habit of keeping us afloat, even when the worst that can happen happens, as in every life it does.” — Thomas Lynch, Christian Century

"David McGlynn writes with the urgency of a true believer and the poignancy of a man who has struggled with belief. A Door in the Ocean is a gripping memoir of family, friendship, and the longing for connection that both faith and competition can bring." —Peter Manseau, author of Vows

A Door in the Ocean is a stunningly heartfelt journey of one young man coming to terms with family and faith through loss, tragedy, and hardship.” —James Brown, author of The Los Angeles Diaries and This River

“From its first page, A Door in the Ocean carries you like a rip tide. You don’t read this memoir, you live it. McGlynn is a keen storyteller, and his coming of age tale takes age-old human experiences—traumatic violence, inexplicable evil, sex, and religion—and remixes them into an intimate and compelling tale. Just remember to stop and breathe as you turn the pages.” —Janna Malamud Smith

“From swimming to surfing, from mystery to murder, from zealotry to simple faith, David McGlynn's memoir packs in a stunning array of vibrant experience as its author makes his way from adolescence to adulthood. The writing is clean and swift, and though I had intended to meander through A Door in the Ocean at my leisure, ultimately I found I could not. I had to swallow David McGlynn's powerhouse of a story whole." —Linda Gray Sexton, author of Half in Love: Surviving the Legacy of Suicide and Searching for Mercy Street: My Journey Back to My Mother, Anne Sexton

“David McGlynn’s spiritual testament offers an antidote to the dogmatic forms of religion, and to the dogmatic assaults on religion, that cause so much strife in our day. He traces his search for a sustaining belief through a history of losses and recoveries, estrangement and reconciliation, all eloquently told. Still young in years, he possesses an elder’s insight into the price of faith that’s rooted in fear, and the promise of faith that’s rooted in love. His honesty is disarming, his prose compelling.” —Scott Russell Sanders, author of Earth Works and A Private History of Awe

“A good memoir keeps you up all night; a fine one clarifies your vision; a great one breaks your heart and changes your life forever. This exquisite new book by David McGlynn does it all.” —Paula Huston, author of The Holy Way and Simplifying Your Soul

“In A Door In the Ocean, David McGlynn writes beautifully about struggling to reconcile his youthful desires with the demands of a faith that may be too strict for his searching, disquieted heart. Anyone who has ever experienced the same will be very grateful to McGlynn for his confessions, which are written with an interrogating honesty that can accommodate reverence—which is an uncommon, and very welcome, sound.” —Carlene Bauer, author of Not That Kind of Girl

"McGlynn's heartfelt memoir…originally began as a series of essays; now strung together, the chapters trace the continuing evolution of the author's hard-won faith, his realization that it wasn't "a kind of insurance policy against misfortune." In the process, he finally recovers that once-hopeful, brave kid, now grown up and back on the swim team, having found his door in the ocean and come safely out the other side."—Atlanta Journal Constitution

Praise for The End of the Straight and Narrow

“When a young writer proves in a first collection that he is the real thing, when the stories are as riveting and haunting as David McGlynn’s are, the temptation is to ask how it is possible. McGlynn writes both elegantly and deeply about the trick of salvation and the strange consolation of suffering itself, about the sorrows of the faithful and the faith that’s required of the nonbeliever.” –Jane Hamilton

“In these generous, effulgent stories, David McGlynn stays so close to his characters we can feel their longing, their feverish hope to keep their secrets. This is a rich, challenging, accomplished book.” –Ron Carlson

“The End of the Straight and Narrow examines lives deeply entwined in matters of forgiveness and transgression, of eternity and this moment here right here. These are stories of desperate nostalgia and hard–hearted hope, matters of life and death, and McGlynn is a writer whose work we need now. But what this conventional praise I have just handed out doesn’t even begin to measure is the fact of how important these stories are.” –Bret Lott

“Whether he imagines a child whose final wish is to kill, or enters the heart and mind of a young man who blames himself for his mother’s blindness, McGlynn moves with such patience and curiosity, such exquisite tenderness for his people, we feel his life and ours may hang in the balance.” –Melanie Rae Thon

“A good book gets under your skin. A great book moves you toward wisdom. The End of the Straight and Narrow is the wisest book I’ve read in a very long time. This is smart, soul–testing American fiction.” –Alyson Hagy

“McGlynn’s profoundly compassionate stories are sure–footed and often witty, grounded in a vision so rich and full it seems to bring extra color to the world. With these luminous stories, David McGlynn announces himself as a writer of consequence.” –Erin McGraw

“A collection as humbling as it is meek. I am impressed by his ‘believers’ whom he refuses to trivialize, categorize, or marginalize. I haven’t the words to say what a wallop McGlynn laid upside my head.” –Lee K. Abbott

“Wonderfully controlled stories of the well–intentioned and the flawed, those precarious souls who attempt to live a moral life in an often immoral universe. McGlynn’s collection is not just entertaining and memorable, but necessary.” –Lee Martin

“McGlynn's superlatively crafted, deeply sympathetic debut story collection traces the spiritual agonies of Christians trying to make sense of their faith within the vicissitudes of human nature.” —Publishers Weekly

“An exceptionally haunting collection. There is agony in these stories, and there is forgiveness and redemption. Here are everyday characters coping with what life has handed them. McGlynn is an author to watch; this is a collection to savor.” —ForeWord Magazine

“David McGlynn’s debut collection of well–crafted short stories stays in the mind longer than most books. He writes patiently and well about real people suddenly facing ultimate issues. ” —Dallas Morning News

“McGlynn’s fiction reminded this reviewer of the work of Flannery O’Connor, James Joyce, and Bobbi Ann Mason—writers who use irony, metaphor, and understatement to describe the dilemmas of characters trapped in presumption and moral equivocation. The stories scintillate with sharp images and subtle nuances in character. An impressive first collection.” —Choice

“McGlynn delivers stories like dark voyages in which the scripted life—governed by morality and responsibility and inherited roles—has failed or been exploded or perhaps transcended (possibly all of the above), exploring the difficult, extraordinary ways people respond to crisis and tragedy.” —Quarterly West

“McGlynn is an elegant craftsman of language. His writing is generous, honest, and polished. He has both the heart and the skill to offer something entirely new to American literature.” —Image

“This collection deals with the human struggle of staying true to one’s faith. It asks big questions about life and touches on human themes to which all can relate. None of this is for the faint of heart.” —Southern Living

“The End of the Straight and Narrow announces the arrival of a visionary...

About the Author

David McGlynn grew up in Houston, Texas, and Southern California. His story collection, The End of the Straight and Narrow, won the 2008 Utah Book Award and was named an “Outstanding Achievement” by the Wisconsin Librarians’ Association. His stories and essays have appeared in Men’s Health, The Huffington Post, Best American Sports Writing, and numerous literary journals. He teaches at Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisconsin, where he lives with his wife and sons.

A lifelong swimmer, he captured a national championship in the 500–yard freestyle at the 2001 United States Masters National Championships. He continues to compete in open–water swimming races all across the country, and on most mornings is the first one in the pool.


More About the Author

David McGlynn is the author of the memoir, A Door in the Ocean, and story collection, The End of the Straight and Narrow, which won the 2008 Utah Book Award, was a finalist for the 2009 Steven Turner Award for Best First Fiction, and was named an "Outstanding Achievement" by the Wisconsin Librarians' Association. His stories and essays have appeared in Men's Health, The Huffington Post, Best American Sports Writing, and numerous literary journals. He teaches at Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisconsin, where he lives with his wife and sons.

A lifelong swimmer, he captured a national championship in the 500-yard freestyle at the 2001 United States Masters National Championships. He now competes in open-water races, and on most mornings is the first one in the pool.

Customer Reviews

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The author is incredibly descriptive and detailed.
NatB
Finally, it is the redemptive power of love that offers grace and gives us purpose.
Salt Lake City Reader
I read the book in one long sitting, absolutely captivated by it.
Madhuri Vijay

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Oberon on June 21, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is a powerful book, that will hit hard from the first chapter and keep swinging. I read it in one sitting, unable to put it down.

McGlynn's prose is spare, but elegant and full of images (hearkening to his origins as a short-story writer).

The writing is good, but it is the subject matter that will take you in, wring you out, and leave you on the other side gasping for breath like a swimmer after a long-distance open water race.
McGlynn's life-- viewed through the triple-prism of his friend's murder, his faith and struggles with evangelicalism, and swimming-- becomes a deeply truthful and resonant life that speaks to the struggles so many of our generation have faced. McGlynn's journey is a searing one, in which he is forged, shattered, and reforged on the anvils of tragedy, love, and fatherhood. This is a timely book, that treats fundamental Christianity and liberalism with equal elegance and sensitivity, that touches on the experiences of a generation and makes the reader feel as though they are not alone. Above all, this book is profoundly redemptive, showing what good can come from the darkest moments in life, and how rich and full life truly is.

David McGlynn is a rare talent -- an author willing to be brutally honest with himself and his reader.

You owe it to yourself to read this book.

You won't be sorry you did.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By LoverofWords on July 13, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is one of the most honest memoirs I've ever read. McGlynn's writing is meditative and precise, and he grapples with deep issues such as faith (in God, in our families, friends, and ourselves) more gracefully than most writers. His honesty makes this book applicable to a wide audience. The prose, which revolves around scenes of water, is beautiful and haunting, and I found myself wanting to linger within the pages long after I was done reading. I cannot recommend this book enough. Such a moving story justly rendered!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Madhuri Vijay on July 16, 2012
Format: Hardcover
It takes courage to write a book like this. Courage and immense compassion. Each chapter in A Door in the Ocean reminded me that the loneliest times in a person's life can also be the most profound, and that there is everything in the world to be learned from being lost. I read the book in one long sitting, absolutely captivated by it. McGlynn refuses to lionize or trivialize any person or any event in his past, and the result is a world that is painfully, recognizably human. There are moments of terrible violence, yes, but there are also times of great tenderness, and the intertwining of the two is what makes this book so wonderful. The questions McGlynn asks are achingly difficult: What is belief and who gets to dictate it? How can one reconcile God and meaninglessness? What does it mean to live a good life? But the simple directness with which he tackles these questions, the candor and honesty with which he reveals his own life and shortcomings, the empathy with which he treats the people around him, all of these things make A Door in the Ocean what it is: a beautiful, honest and deeply moral book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By MEPothier on August 15, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Since McGlynn's collection of short stories, The End of the Straight and Narrow: Stories, was one of the best I'd read in the past decade, I looked forward to this memoir -- an integrated collection of several essays published over as many years -- for quite a while. I wasn't disappointed. The same fine balance between full-blooded compassion and a morally critical distance that you find in the stories is also here. What's more remarkable here, however, is seeing the author turn these upon himself. Here he loses the dearest friend of his youth -- to a ruthless, violent death; he retraces that loss and its effects on his life, recounts the shame at later finding himself use that story to gain social cred, and then, by exploring that shame, grows beyond it -- past blame and beyond self-knowledge to a deeper faith in humanity. And that's just one aspect of what this book delivers. Highly recommended.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By The Philosophical Swimmer on July 22, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
An amazing book! It's a very honest look at how tragedy rewrites our lives, about being young and making promises you don't quite understand, about our innate fear of death. It's very hard not to empathize with the author.

Besides a great story, the narrative poses some deep philosophical issues that gets you thinking.

If you need a new book to read, I guarantee you will not be disappointed by this one!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Appleton Momma on July 21, 2012
Format: Hardcover
I read this book in three sittings. Had I not had children who seem to demand to eat and go to and from activities on a regular basis, etc, I would have read it in fewer sittings. This book allows us a glimpse into how David McGlynn arrives at his own faith due to events of his life. In reflection, the reader is forced to ponder their own faith and how they have arrived at it (no matter their religious background). McGlynn's ability to bring voice to the people in the book is astounding, allowing the reader to really know both him and those around him. I would highly recommend the book.
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Must have been difficult to write only if the author had not experienced much of misfortune of life. Will look forward to the next book. Thanks David.
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By larkspur on August 23, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A magnificently crafted tale of honesty and heart. McGlynn's prose is beautiful and relatable, treating its subject material with unusual compassion. I found a surprise in every chapter, and was most impressed by his knack for drawing attention to aspects of the ordinary that one might otherwise overlook. This is a book I expect to reread many times.
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