Annotations: Drowning Practice


I am not an “event” person. Birthdays, weddings, holidays—even weekends: I’m not up for whatever it is you’re planning. There’s too much anticipation. The delivery on return is always subpar, and the experience of the actual day is never as good as you’d hoped. I’m of the opinion that the best days are always ordinary Tuesdays.

In that spirit, I also hate twist endings. Or endings presaged by too much hype or mystery. The monster at the end of the book is never as terrifying as you imagined (except, of course, for in The Monster at the End of This Book). So, I had my qualms going into Mike Meginnis’ Drowning Practice. The premise is this:

One night, everyone on Earth has the same dream—a dream of being guided to a watery death by a loved one on November 1. When they wake up, most people agree: after Halloween, the world will end.

The novel asks: What matters given impending apocalypse?

For all 400 pages of Drowning Practice, I dreaded the end of the story, even as I fell in love with the characters. Meginnis set himself up for failure from page 1 with a this-will-be-climactic premise. Would the world actually end? Would it end the way the dreamers dreamt it would? Would it feel like an apocalypse? Would Mott and Lyd survive? Would the “why” of the end of the world be answered?

Without spoiling anything, I will say this: Meginnis nailed it. This ending is one of the best I’ve read—satisfying and imaginative and way better than an ordinary Tuesday.

Favorite words.

“It must be nice to care about nature.”

“I’ve tried, several times,” said Mott. “And I can’t. But you’re right. The canyon is nice.”

“It isn’t nice,” said Lyd. “That’s what I like about it.”

“It’s … indifferent?”

“I’m not sure that’s right, either. People are indifferent, the land isn’t. It’s not even land, it’s just us, looking at the earth that makes it real.”

“Sometimes it seems like you both think that novels are the only beautiful things in the world. That’s not the case. Everybody else doesn’t secretly wish they could do what you do.”

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