No Diving Allowed

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From F. Scott Fitzgerald to John Cheever, the swimming pool has long held a unique place in the mythos of the American idyll, by turns status symbol and respite. The fourteen stories that comprise No Diving Allowed fearlessly plunge the depths of the human condition as award-winning author Louise Marburg freights her narratives with the often unfathomable pressure of what lies beneath. In “Identical,” sibling rivalry between brothers exposes lingering resentments of men who never made peace with boyhood animosities; “Let Me Stay With You” follows a man whose innocent attention to a child is gravely misunderstood. The trials of a fractured family come to the fore in the trenchant, unapologetic “Minor Thefts.” Siblings, friends, parents, couples, children: the characters in these stories ask how much any of us can bear before we break. Marburg’s writing is agile, witty, and crisply spare. These are tales of regret and mercy, of bonds forged and frayed, and most of all our individual capacity to love even that which damns us. As readers of these pages will learn, the difference between swimming and drowning is often nothing more than the will to live.

Praise for No Diving Allowed

“In her riveting and memorable story collection, No Diving Allowed, Louise Marburg explores forbidden lines and boundaries imposed by class, gender, families and friendships. Some characters step forward with wit and resolve while others do so with threat and devastation. Linked by the presence of swimming pools both clear and murky, these compelling stories are deeply refreshing.”

—Jill McCorkle, author of Hieroglyphics

“Marburg’s stories are engaging, even if bittersweet, and give readers much to think about. Her style is similar to Vonnegut’s, and her subjects remind me of those in The House on Mango Street. There is a lot of life in just 145 pages of No Diving Allowed.”

Austin American-Statesman [read the full review]

“How fitting the stories in Louise Marburg’s dazzling collection, No Diving Allowed, feature swimming pools, because few writers can wade so far into the turbulent waters of family life. From suburban Connecticut to the plains of Africa, Marburg offers shimmering, iridescent tales of marriage, parenting, friendship and adolescent discovery that capture the very essence of the human spirit. Her pools are never still, but always run deep. John Cheever built a reputation upon one breath-stopping swimming story; Louise Marburg serves up fourteen. No Diving Allowed offers a penetrating exploration of our emotional tides. Readers will be very glad to have taken the plunge.”

—Jacob M. Appel, author of Millard Salter’s Last Day

“In her latest collection, No Diving Allowed, Louise Marburg’s masterful prose shimmers and delights. Startlingly perceptive, these stories plumb the depths of uncomfortable, half-understood emotions, exposing her characters’ unique vulnerabilities and exploring their inspiring resiliency.”

—Chris Cander, author of The Weight of a Piano

No Diving Allowed defies all clichés. Marburg’s superbly startling characters—ferocious and ordinary, ill-intentioned and innocent—see no choice but to compete, and each story has surprises about who wins. These are keenly original, remarkable stories.”

—Joan Silber, author of Secrets of Happiness

“Each of the stories in No Diving Allowed is so fully rendered, so vividly alive, so utterly interesting and, above all, so fearless. Here is a writer who is not afraid to put her characters in desperate situations and see what they will do. If necessary, she’ll fan the flames. What a dazzling collection Louise Marburg has written.”

—Margot Livesey, author of The Boy in the Field