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The Swimming-Pool Library
by Alan Hollinghurst | Literature & Fiction
Registered by Vasha of Ithaca, New York USA on 10/25/2009
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status (set by hyphen8): available

2 journalers for this copy...

Journal Entry 1 by Vasha from Ithaca, New York USA on Sunday, October 25, 2009

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When Hollinghurst published The Swimming-Pool Library, he was already well engaged in the literary scene, having published two collections of poetry and being on the staff of the Times Literary Supplement. This, his first novel, is an exuberant narrative of gay life set in 1983, which portrays the hedonism of "the last summer of its kind there was to be," before the AIDS crisis had really taken hold. By turns enraptured with the present and nostalgic for the past, the novel revels in the company of men and ubiquitous gay sex, while conducting the reader to a finely pitched denouement.

Two lives are contrasted here, that of Lord Nantwich, an ex-colonial administrator in Africa, and William Beckwith, a young gay man of independent means. After saving the aging peer's life, William is subsequently persuaded to write his biography and takes possession of his diaries. These provide a parallel narrative, and it becomes apparent that, though the two men are generations apart, their lives contain disquieting similarities. Racism and queer-bashing endure — even fifteen years after the legalization of homosexuality, the harassment of gay men persists as the arrest of William's best friend by an undercover policeman, himself gay, echoes the circumstances in which Nantwich served a prison sentence in the 1950s. For all the licentious liberty, the machinery of oppression is never far away in this novel, and further, the whiff of nostalgia for the alluring eroticism of the outlaw highlights the complexity of desire. The shadowing of contemporary gay liberation with the dangers of illicit homosexual life is a reminder, lest we become complacent, of our connection and debt to past defeats as well as present victories.
— Carole Jones in 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die 

Journal Entry 2 by Vasha at 1001-library request, --by post or by hand (ie ring, ray, RABCK, trade) -- Controlled Releases on Wednesday, November 11, 2009

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Released 8 yrs ago (11/12/2009 UTC) at 1001-library request, --by post or by hand (ie ring, ray, RABCK, trade) -- Controlled Releases


In transit. 

Journal Entry 3 by winghyphen8wing from Honolulu, Hawaii USA on Friday, November 27, 2009

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Received today - thank you! 

Journal Entry 4 by winghyphen8wing from Honolulu, Hawaii USA on Tuesday, March 16, 2010

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At one point I thought this book sounded interesting and saved a blurb about it; many years later I unearthed that scrap of paper and put the book on my wishlist.

Vasha was kind enough to send it to me and I appreciate that very much.

Unfortunately once I started reading I just wasn't that interested; I didn't quite get to 50 pages before I gave up.

Hopefully someone else will enjoy this more than I did..after all, it *is* on the 1001 books list!

This book will be returning to the 1001 library's shelf. 

Journal Entry 5 by winghyphen8wing at Honolulu, Hawaii USA on Monday, May 14, 2018

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This book has been weeded from the 1001-library due to lack of circulation: I urgently need to downsize and something that hasn't been requested since 2010 is well overdue to go traveling. This is not necessarily a reflection on the book but I don't have infinite space. :( 

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