“Two days before he would die from a cardiac arrest and be resuscitated following a routine medical procedure, Fred Swan wrote a skeptical prayer in a journal. Discouraged and depressed he asked the Universe that he might wake from his upcoming procedure a “changed man, a man with a differing view” of his life. In the days ahead, a physician cautioned his family, “Before we start worrying about how he will climb the stairs, let us first determine if he has brain function.”
A portion of Swan’s sight and his ability to comprehend the passage of time did not accompany his eventual journey back up the hill to his house. Ten months later the same physician who had both saved his life and cautioned Swan’s family about the potential for brain damage was summoned to perform open-heart surgery on Swan’s wife.
A story of childhood, a story of love, a story of aging, Parentheses sensitively explores a life on the other side of a “miracle,” a life on the other side of the “light,” where all things are not clear and peaceful, where neither all truths nor all insights have been revealed.
This beautifully constructed and experimental memoir provides a rare and sensitive glimpse into the heart and the mind of a man as he searches through his troubled childhood, his quest as an adult to meet a birth parent, his life as a father and a husband, his questions about the existence of God and the psychological debris left from a catastrophic physical event.
Parentheses: My Life Before, During and After My Death is a story of hope and of the resiliency of the human spirit. It takes a journalistic, introspective and spirited path that will resonate with readers who, despite the enormous losses and challenges we all eventually encounter, continue to hope and who continue to aspire to use to the fullest any day and any potential they are given.” Stewart and Hobbs Publishing House
Kirkus review, July 2014
“…powerful memoir about life and death.
Swan’s debut memoir chronicles his life leading up to a near-death experience, the strange beauty of the experience itself and the changes in his life thereafter.
…Questioning whether divine intervention could occur…Swan is careful not to rush too hastily toward explanations. He stitches his memoir together out of journal entries, passages from medical records and flashbacks as he lets the events speak for themselves, though he often includes associative metaphors or other tidbits to broadenhis struggle’s context…these inclusions feel like perfect interpolations…
Swan’s most powerful writing occurs in his clear articulation of the state he entered as he died, and the memoir would suffer if it were to lose its Melville-ian ephemera…
…these deeply human evocations never succumb to emotional or supernatural melodrama as they detail Swan’s brief afterlife and his grappling with death and its aftermath.” Kirkus 2014
Amazon reader reviews:
The honesty with which Fred Swan approaches his life experiences provides a portal for each reader to enter into and bring their own life experiences. He takes the reader of a journey with him. There is such strength in the vulnerability revealed in his writing. I imagine that each time I read it I will discover something new. This is not a book that will give you the answers about what is “on the other side”. It is a book about life and what is on “this side”. I cannot more highly recommend this book.” 5 stars out of 5
Jen rated it 5 of 5 stars
I read an advanced reader copy of Parentheses, a memoir of an average human, experiencing an almost unheard of miracle. In this honest and brave portrayal, Swan, leads us on a journey thru two life changing events and in doing so, holds up a mirror to our own lives. The unique language gives the reader a new perception of time with which to view expectation, fear, and passion. Rarely has a book had so much impact on my daily life, and changed, positively, my definitions of love, family, and the liquid nature of hope and miracles.