The Cold Last Swim


Product Details

$16.99  $15.80
Gibson House Press
Publish Date
5.5 X 8.5 X 0.9 inches | 0.85 pounds
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About the Author

Junior Burke is the author of the novels Something Gorgeous and A Thousand Eyes. He is also a songwriter and recording artist whose 2007 album While You Were Gone was named by New York's Bowery Poetry Club as one of the best releases of that year. Other albums include Spot of Time (2017) and the EP America's a Lonely Town (2019). He lives in rural Colorado.


"1954 - the young James Dean shoots Ronald Reagan on live TV. Dumped by the studios, Dean doesn't make Giant and isn't killed in a car crash. Instead, he jumps bail, disappears, disastrously impacts lives, and becomes . . . well, that would be telling. The Cold Last Swim is entertaining and surprising all the way to the end." --Alex Cox, Director-writer of Repo Man and Sid & Nancy, and author of The President and the Provocateur: The Parallel Lives of JFK and Lee Harvey Oswald
"In this shrewd reimagining of James Dean's life and death, Burke concocts a mesmerizing "sliding doors" narrative that asks the reader to consider the "what if?" of Dean surviving that infamous car crash. With smartly noirish rhythms and a cast of colorful, quirky characters, we find ourselves tossed between incredulity and eagerness, driven to discover where the "alternate history" of this cultural icon just may take us." --Lorraine Devon Wilke, Award-winning author of The Alchemy of Noise, Hysterical Love, and After the Sucker Punch
"Quentin Tarantino isn't the only writer around today who is offering an alternate history to famous cultural events. In his compelling and richly entertaining novel The Cold Last Swim, Junior Burke presents his own version of what happened to James Dean, that ultimate icon of cool, in this luminous love letter to Hollywood and the golden age of filmmaking. Full of surprises, it is a joy from beginning to end." --June Skinner Sawyers, Co-editor, Long Walk Home: Reflections on Bruce Springsteen
"In this gorgeous and powerful new novel, James Dean ignites pieces of paper with his cigarette lighter, one after another. A revenant yet desiccating presence, he appears then disappears. A character pronounces: "Art has to be inevitable." This, for me, was how Junior Burke's book worked its magic. The narrative was irreversible, a conduit between the world as it was and the world as it could be. Streaming in the background: a pastel-toned Pasadena or a neon Sunset Boulevard, a succession of Californian atmospheres that make The Cold Last Swim a particular and immersive pleasure to read." --Bhanu Kapil, Author of The Vertical Interrogation of Strangers and How To Wash A Heart
"Junior Burke's sure-footed alternative history recasts the wild life and turbulent times of James Dean with wit and great inventiveness. Personal dramas blend with political conflicts in a fast-paced and gritty tale of ambition, second chances, and obsession." --Andrew Wille