Tuesday, September 23, 2008

At Swim, Two Boys

Quickie Recap: Jim and Doyler are two outcasts who become the best of friends during a trying time for Ireland, circa WW1. But as boyhood turns to manhood, these touching displays of friendship become charged with underlying passions and desires.

Quickie Review: I knew how this book would end before I even properly began it, but this is the kind of book where you say it's not the destination, it's the journey. This is a bittersweet journey, but one worth making. You really get the sense of witnessing something rare and beautiful: these two boys share a love that is almost completely unselfconscious despite the fact that they have to hide who they are, don't even know what to call it, really. But they explore this new territory together, fearlessly. Meanwhile, a gentleman named Anthony befriends them, having recently been released from a term of hard labour served for "buggery". This character teeters on the edge of impropriety but as he extends himself to teach them about their love and lifestyle, we see a transformation of sorts occur. You find yourself grimacing at times, willing him not to be a schmuck, to make the right choices because ultimately, though O'Neill could have written him as an ugly pedophile, you do end up sympathizing with him. But this is not just a story of love between boys, but also of love for one's country...and how sometimes these two intersect, and other times, they don't.

Quickie Recommendation: I feel a little improved to have shared in this story, and a little foolish to have ended up crying on a bus.


Ms Mac said...

It's quite lovely, this book.

Jay said...


Lorna said...

I've done that---reading The Time Traveler's Wife

Jay said...

THAT book, one of my all-time favourites, so affected me that 4ish years later, I can still tell you exactly where I was when I finished that book, what time of night it was, and roughly what proportion of a box of tissues I went through.