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  • 66 Laps
  • Written by Leslie Lehr Spirson
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  • 66 Laps
  • Written by Leslie Lehr Spirson
  • Format: eBook | ISBN: 9780307554086
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66 Laps

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A Novel

Written by Leslie Lehr SpirsonAuthor Alerts:  Random House will alert you to new works by Leslie Lehr Spirson


List Price: $11.99


On Sale: February 04, 2009
Pages: 224 | ISBN: 978-0-307-55408-6
Published by : Villard Ballantine Group
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I slipped off my clothes and dove into the pool. We are 96 percent liquid. There is nothing more sensuous than a good splash against naked skin: the initial rush of cold, the smooth acquiescence of inner fluid to the outer mantle of wet.

Thirty-two-year-old Audrey Hastings swims a mile each day in her backyard pool: sixty-six laps. These meticulously counted crossings are the balm for her frustrations as a new mother, and her hedge against the insecurity she feels upon discovering her first gray hair. But the smooth waters through which she so assiduously glides grow cloudy when it becomes crystal clear that her good-looking, easy-going husband has begun an affair with a comely co-worker named Kim--who resembles Audrey, ten years younger.
        Audrey rages and stews and swims while contemplating this threat to her very existence. A fan-tasy of revenge--taking a younger lover of her own--becomes real when Audrey catches the eye of a sexy grad student at the park where she takes her two-year-old, Gina, to play.
        Audrey hesitates, resists, succumbs. And Au-drey learns that the consequences of jealousy, suspicion, and adultery can be more disastrous than she ever imagined.
        Precise, intelligent, and intense, 66 Laps is an altogether irresistible novel written with scalpel-like precision.

From the Hardcover edition.


I slipped off my clothes and dove in the pool. We are 96 percent liquid. There is nothing more sensuous than a good splash against naked skin: the initial rush of cold, the smooth acquiescence of inner fluid to the outer mantle of wet.

I couldnít believe I hit Colleen. I was usually so polite, so full of shit. Itís true, I never really liked her. She was an all-natural vegetarian: no sugar, no fast food, a superior being all the way around. Not that I could take the Twinkie defense, I was into being healthy, just not to a point of inconvenient excess. All things in moderation. Even moderation. Her son was the attraction. He was almost two, like Gina. Well, she had plenty of other friends who liked roly-poly bugs.
I eased onto my back, floating under a halo of fruit trees. Our yard was small, but perfect. The pool was heart-shaped; not like a perfect Hallmark heart, but like the real lopsided thumper than you live or die by. It was an oasis framed by a fading redwood fence. Drifting, I could imagine valley living back when the condos were grapefruit orchards and the air smelled sweet and a person could see the pink mountains thirty miles away. Land ho! A horse neighed from a nearby ranch, a survivor. Gina loved our long walks around the neighborhood visiting the pig, the donkey and the old blacksmith who still made house calls. We knew just where to find the old West among the decorative wagon wheels and dry wishing wells. We loved it here.
A shudder woke me from my reverie. A string of twinkling Christmas lights had slipped. It dangled down against the back of the house. Jim did things 100 percent or not at all. At night, our house sparkled from every angle. December was a memory, but the holiday spirit lingered. I used to think it was his sense of romance that kept those lights up all year long. Later, I realized it was laziness. I plugged them in one Memorial Day just to be a smart-ass. I fell in love with the instant magic. They looked so darned happy. After that we kept them plugged in. So itís romance after all.

Our pink crepe myrtle and a flowering white oleander framed a perfect palm tree in the distance. It was my own personal palm tree, rising up like a bottle rocket from a flare of fuchsia bougainvillea, exploding in a burst of languid fronds. My eyes slid slowly back down the long skinny trunk past the fence into the pool.
Time to get moving. I rolled over.

Thirty years of swimming has given me the perfect form. Fingertips first, gliding under the surface, over the barrel, finish it off, elbows up. I breathed every other stroke, alternating sides on a good day.
I never felt finished unless I swam a mile. Sixty-six laps is a long way. Especially in a backyard pool designed for zebra floats and water wings. One circle equaled a twenty-five-meter lap. Sometimes it was just back and forth, back and forth, and I felt like I was trapped in a bathtub, counting down to freedom. Today it was freedom. I could tune out everything. No one could get to me. No one could stop me. A hydraulic high. It didnít matter where I was going. Chances were good that Iíd hit that perfect rhythm by lap 66.
Every life has a rhythm. The trick was to recognize the rhythm when you found it. Last September, I lay in the hammock with Gina, just after her nap. She was peaceful, sucking her bottle in the crook of my arm. I was laying there, loving her, loving Jim, loving life. The high trees were waving to me, telling me, this is it! The moment was joyful and content. The thrill of creation, the awe of immortalityóthe adrenaline rush of new motherhood.
But it was only a moment.
I tucked my head for a flip turn. My shoulders rolled forward, under. Nearly upside down, my hips twisted left by remote control. I kicked out my feet to push off Öbut the wall was not there.
Panic. For the first time, I recognized the sensation of drowning. I lifted my head up, breaking the still surface of my peaceful world. I stood, stranded in three feet of water. What happened? I tried to catch my breath; instead I caught my reflection.
A stranger stared back at me. The mutation was both subtle and violent. The invasion of gray hair at my temple, the triumph of blue veins trespassing on my thigh. I had slipped through the invisible hedge of adulthood. The voltage was high: the ravages shocking.
I was not old. But I would never be young again. I could no longer call myself a girl. I was a woman, and there was no turning back. I had reached my peak physically; now there was only downhill.
I had to find that rhythm again, that perfect rhythm, perfection.

From the Hardcover edition.
Leslie Lehr Spirson

About Leslie Lehr Spirson

Leslie Lehr Spirson - 66 Laps
Leslie Lehr Spirson is the winner of the 1998 Pirate's Alley Faulkner Society Gold Medal for Best Novella. She wrote the film Heartless as well as several humorous parenting books; 66 Laps is her first novel. A graduate of the U.S.C. School of Cinema/ TV, she lives in Southern California with her husband and daughters.


"The prose is luminous and passionate, and
the story of Audrey's season of doubt and love is irresistible and ultimately heartbreaking. The author knows what Tolstoy knew, that it's the simple, ordinary life that is the most terrible, the most tragic, the most compelling. The story is about the new monogamy, the old infidelity, about the power we give to strangers and the fragility of intimacy. It's about dreams and nightmares, betrayal and seduction. The voice is engaging, the characters memorable and moving, the subject important. You can't trust a woman in love, Audrey tells us. Indeed. 66 Laps reminded me of why I started reading stories in the first place: to be enchanted, to live in a world that is more vivid and more compelling than the one I come from."

--John Dufresne, author of Love Warps the
    Mind a Little and Louisiana Power & Light

From the Hardcover edition.

  • 66 Laps by Leslie Lehr Spirson
  • March 07, 2000
  • Fiction
  • Villard
  • $15.00
  • 9780812992304

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