Synopsis of the novel, Still Points
Philip Zumwalt is an accomplished musician, poet, and idealist—a dreamer. Fresh out of college in 1940, he takes a job as a music teacher in a small, rural Illinois town. His plan is to teach for a few years to save enough money to finance his dreams: go to Chicago to become a professional musician and get his pilot’s license. These dreams dominate his thoughts until one summer night when he meets Elinor Robinson.
Philip and Elinor’s forbidden romance and the specter of war hanging over the country put Philip’s dream on hold. When he enlists in the Army Air Force, the gifted artist goes on an unpredictable journey of lost innocence. Life and death hang in the balance as he overcomes his fears and spiritual doubts in a desperate effort to survive aerial combat in the maelstrom of the Southwest Pacific Theater. In the end, a single dream remains for Philip: to return home to the woman he loves.
Based upon the World War II diaries of the real Philip Zumwalt, this debut novel is a bittersweet tale of the transcendent power of love and reminds us of the immense sacrifices made by the men and women of that era.
The novel Still Points is now available.
What readers are saying:
Barry Swanson’s immersive debut is at once a tender romance, an insightful coming-of-age story, and an unflinching look at the realities of war. Swanson grabs the reader from the first page and keeps them in his thrall as he brings the characters and settings to vivid life. Both uplifting and heartbreaking, STILL POINTS is a book you won’t soon forget.
~ Kathleen Barber, author of Truth Be Told, Now an Apple TV+ Series and Follow Me
Still Points is a novel of spectacular, untarnished beauty. A lovely, lyrical book that is both profound and honest, entertaining and real. Inspired by a true story, Swanson’s literary debut is heartfelt, heartbreaking, and utterly heart-filling.
~ Jennifer Niven, #1 New York Times Bestselling Author of All the Bright Places
In 1943, Philip Zumwalt, a radio gunner in the Army Air Corps, gazes up at the New Guinea sky, “long(ing) for El or for anyone who love(s) him.” Based on the author’s family history, this heartbreaking and compelling novel has the energy and passion of a story that must be told. It is a sweeping tale of love and war, a novel that shines a light on the ‘still point’ at the heart of all human longing.
–Abigail DeWitt, author of News of Our Loved Ones
“Barry Swanson’s Still Points was inspired by diaries and papers left behind by his wife’s Uncle Philip, a poet and musician who served in the U.S. Army during World War II. Swanson had promised to ‘make something’ of the story he was given. In fact, he did much more than that. He created totally engaging characters who face daunting battles, both in war and of the heart. This large, captivating tale illuminates how love and war – in very different ways – change everything. Still Points is heartbreaking. And, at the same time, it is filled with the energy of life.”
— Judy Goldman, author of Together: A Memoir of a Marriage and a Medical Mishap