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Book Title: At Swim, Two Boys|
The author of the book: Jamie O'Neill
Edition: Scribner Book Company
Date of issue: April 1st 2002
ISBN 13: 9780743222945
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 957 KB
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Reader ratings: 3.1
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Set in Dublin, "At Swim, Two Boys" follows the year to Easter 1916, the time of Ireland's brave but fractured uprising against British rule. O'Neill tells the story of the love of two boys: Jim, a naive and reticent scholar and the younger son of the foolish aspiring shopkeeper Mr. Mack, and Doyler, the dark, rough-diamond son of Mr. Mack's old army pal. Doyler might once have made a scholar like Jim, might once have had prospects like Jim, but his folks sent him to work, and now, schoolboy no more, he hauls the parish midden cart, with socialism and revolution and willful blasphemy stuffed under his cap. And yet the future is rosy, Jim's father is sure. His elder son is away fighting the Hun for God and the British Army, and he has such plans for Jim and their corner shop empire. But Mr. Mack cannot see that the landscape is changing, nor does he realize the depth of Jim's burgeoning friendship with Doyler. Out at the Forty Foot, that great jut of rock where gentlemen bathe in the scandalous nude, the two boys meet day after day. There they make a pact: Doyler will teach Jim to swim, and in a year, Easter 1916, they will swim the bay to the distant beacon of Muglins Rock and claim that island for themselves.
Ten years in the writing, "At Swim, Two Boys" has already caused a sensation in England and Ireland, earning lavish praise for its masterful portrayal of class, tradition, and the conflict that has haunted Ireland for centuries. Jamie O'Neill's poetic and evocative storytelling makes him a natural successor to James Joyce and Flann O'Brien.
At its heart, "At Swim, Two Boys" is a tender and tragic love story that will resonate with all readers. But it is also acompelling and important work, a novel about people caught up in the tide of history -- set in a place and culture both unfamiliar and unforgettable.
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Read information about the authorJamie O'Neill is an Irish author, who lived and worked in England for two decades; he now lives in Gortachalla, in County Galway, Ireland. His critically-acclaimed novel, At Swim, Two Boys (2001) earned him the highest advance ever paid for an Irish novel and frequent claims that he was the natural successor to James Joyce, Flann O'Brien and Samuel Beckett.
O'Neill was born in Dún Laoghaire in 1962 and was educated at Presentation College, Glasthule, County Dublin, run by the Presentation Brothers, and (in his words) "the city streets of London, the beaches of Greece." He was raised in a home without books, and first discovered that books "could be fun" when he read Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott. O'Neill was unhappy at home; he had a very difficult relationship with his father and ran away from home at age 17.
O'Neill was the partner of television presenter Russell Harty for six years until Harty's death in 1988. His current partner is Julien Joly, a former ballet dancer who now works as a Shiatsu therapist.
O'Neill lists as his favourite books: Ulysses, by James Joyce, The Last of the Wine, by Mary Renault, Hadrian VII, by Fr. Rolfe (Frederick Baron Corvo), The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, by Edward Gibbon, The Leopard, by Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa, The Siege of Krishnapur, by J. G. Farrell, One Hundred Years of Solitude, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, The Third Policeman, by Flann O'Brien, The Swimming-Pool Library, by Alan Hollinghurst, and The Lost Language of Cranes by David Leavitt.
O’Neill met Russell Harty in 1982, during a two-week holiday in London. They became a couple and lived together in London and at Rose Cottage, Harty's home in Giggleswick, Yorkshire. Harty encouraged O'Neill's writing and read his manuscripts; he even mailed manuscripts of early novels to publishers without O'Neill's consent or knowledge, and a book deal was agreed with Weidenfeld. Soon after that, in 1988, Russell Harty died of AIDS-related Hepatitis B. Hounded by the tabloid press, O'Neill's nude photograph was splashed across the front of the Sunday Mirror; the picture was taken shortly after his arrival in London when he earned some money as a model. He turned down offers of up to £50,000 for interviews about his private life with Russell Harty.
This newspaper coverage was how O'Neill's parents in Ireland discovered that their son was gay. This event would have been traumatising enough; his distress was deepened when members of the Harty family threw him out of the cottage, burned his clothes and left him homeless. They did, however, allow him to take the couple's pet dog, Paddy; even though they did want it.
After Russell Harty's death, O'Neill sought therapeutic help. The following year, O'Neill's first novel, Disturbance, was published; Kilbrack followed in 1990. Both novels had been mostly finished while Harty was alive. But then, grieving for Harty and alone in London, O'Neill struggled to write, parted company with both his agent and publisher, and took the job as a night porter at the Cassell Hospital, a psychiatric institution in Surrey from 1990 up to 2000.
Two years after Russell Harty's death, Paddy was to accidentally introduce O'Neill to his future partner. O'Neill was in a London pub when he noticed the dog was missing. Paddy had been found by a ballet dancer named Julien Joly. They began a relationship and Joly was instrumental in helping O'Neill put his life back together. During the ten years that followed, O'Neill wrote At Swim, Two Boys, which was published in 2001. Its official launch at Somerset House in London was abandoned on the day -- it was September 11, 2001.
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