The Swimming Pool Library
20 journalers for this copy...
Released 14 yrs ago (8/30/2005 UTC) at
WILD RELEASE NOTES:
I am releasing this book to fellow BookCrosser zzz in Serbia via Royal Mail.
"The Swimming Pool Library" will be the first novel by Alan Hollinghurts that I'll read and just like Cathryn, so do I have high hopes for this book thanks to the same reasons...we'll see if epilogue will be the same.
Cathryn thank you so much indeed!
*** The first major novel in Britain to put gay life in its modern place and context ... A historic novel and historic debut -- Guardian
*** Deserves first prize in every category ... superbly written, wildly funny -- Daily Telegraph
*** Beautifully welds the standard conventions of fiction to a tale of modern transgression. It tells of impurities with shimmering elegance, of complexities with a camp-fired wit and of truths with a fiction's solid grace -- New York Times Book Review
Finished. Well, I would lie if I tell I wasn't in shock while reading this book. This is first gay novel I've ever read and that's why I was very interested in it. Especially after so fabulous reviews which "The Swimming-Pool Library" has. Actually I"m not sure what kind of story I expected, maybe some story about homosexual relationship like in movie "Philadelphia" (with or without AIDS). "Philadelphia"? Ha, ha! comparing with this book even Almodovar with his movies is a little kid. This is SO different!
Hollinghurst is writing without any barrier, his vocabulary is sharp and totally naked; he doesn't hesitate to use right word and right verb. This is book without euphemisms. I've read certain parts to my friend and he asked me "How can you read this pornography?" and indeed it is (first part) on the very final border of pornography and so-called "serious literature" so I guess it is truth that this is quite brave novel. Sometimes I had to close this book and take a deep breath before I continue reading.
So, first (dark) part of the novel was "difficult" for me with all those aggressive explicit sexual scenes and equal life style. But then later I've realized the point of such describing. It is fabulous (although sometimes hard for digest) picture of one way of living and it was necessary for bypassing mental abyss of main character.
Now, I'm not sure how much truth there is in this novel? I mean it's little hard to believe that this kind of (homo) sexual supermarket exist. Even in London. Then also it changed my perspective about gay relationships with such an enormous lasciviousness.
OK to end this journal, this book is definitely not for everyone but at the end I could say that I'm very glad that I've read it. It is one nice parallel between gay life in the past and the present time (which is more-less the same) but especially parallel between attitude of public society and government then and now and accepting existence of gay population.
This is good book; yes sometimes shocking but then that could often be a compliment :-)
So 7 stars!
(and by the way: this book has one of the most original cover arts I've ever seen!)
This is Alan Hollinghurst!
Released 14 yrs ago (10/4/2005 UTC) at
WILD RELEASE NOTES:
Welcome to "The Swimming-Pool Library" International Book-Ring!
The Ring is underway as of 4th October 2005.
1. Piggeldy, Weinstadt - Germany (read and released)
2. -BookHaven-, Porto - Portugal (read and released)
3. CatharinaL, Tampere - Finland (read and released)
4. SudoKris, St Andrews - UK (read and released)
5. marie-therese, Glasgow - UK (read and released)
6. Sterile, Burnley - UK (read and released)
7. arturogrande, Coalville - UK (read and released)
8. Xanthe-pup, Cardiff - UK (read and released)
9. flambard, Horsham - UK (read and released)
10. janey-canuck, Ontario - Canada (read and released)
11. Oldbroad, Washington - USA (read and released)
12. fungirl503, Oregon - USA (read and released)
13. quinnsmom, California - USA (read and released)
14. laurarn, Oklahoma - USA (read and released)
15. nicolesinger, North Carolina - USA (read and released)
16. buffra, West Virginia - USA (read and released)
17. wyldewomin, Massachusetts - USA (asked to be skipped)
18. jherusalem, Virginia - USA (asked to be skipped)
19. mirp, Dublin - Ireland (read and released)
Oct 10th book has arrived to zzz and the ring is completed
- Please make a journal entry when you receive the book, enjoy, and after reading please do share your thoughts about it with others.
- When you're ready to release the book, send a PM to the next person on the list asking for her/his address and please journal when you mail it out -- that way, everyone will know the book's approximate location.
- If you don't think you'll be able to read this book within a reasonable time of receipt, please let me know before it's mailed to you, and I'll be happy to move your name down the list.
- Please try to not keep it longer than six weeks. Thanks!
Edit, November 15th 2005: I'll send the book on, but I've only read half of it - it's simply printed too small (though I always thought my eyes were quite good) :-(
But the story (so far) is very interesting - I'll buy my own copy some day (maybe in German, I don't know yet) and then finish reading it!
WILD RELEASE NOTES:
I get my own copy via Ebay :-)
i just don't think there is a need for this "gay supermarket" as zzz puts it anymore, but as i'm straight, who knows?
anywhay, i had a strange dream while reading it, so, maybe it was worth it...
i'm sending it today to CatarinaL.
thanks a lot for sharing!
Oh, and while I'm at it: Hyvää Joulua...Merry Christmas...Feliz Natal...Hristos se rodi!
This was a book about lifestyle, not in the least about orientation. To be more precise, a book about a lifestyle, the stereotypical gay world. The gay world is a parallel world that exists alongside the mainstream culture, but which most straight people either fail to see or pretend not to see. This was a boundary-breaking voyeuristic peak into the 'invisible', and undoubtedly a major milestone for both the straight and the gay communities when first published in 1988! An epic display of gay culture and erotica, a firework show of cultural history, covering the centuries and decades of gay subculture and all of its stereotypes: the idolatry of youth, rampant party-animal promiscuity, fetishistic power play, gay idols, camp culture with all of its distortions and exaggerations. I saw the book as a self-conscious insider narrative, a culture and its stereotypics defined and described from the inside. I imagine quite a similar thing would be calling people 'queer': you can't do that while you're on the outside, but when you're in, everybody's queer as hell and the negative turns into a positive thing. Consequently, what troubled me about the insider narrative is that I didn't quite know when to laugh and when not to. I'm also sure I missed many allusions or trigger words just because I'm not a gay male. In terms of the exclusiveness of a subculture, I almost felt like Eve expelled from Paradise!
For me, any 'shock value' intended arose from the problem of accepting such a hedonistic lifestyle. I'm not sure to what extent the book exaggerated the deliberately subversive lifestyle and the manifestations and celebrations of homosexuality... to the pleasure and amusement of the readers with insight and to the shock and awe of others, of course :-) What seemed to surface was an image of daydream gay life, Will being an unrealistic caricature of the privileged few whose only purpose in life is to seek personal pleasure. I guess such a 'Dorian Gray-ish' character was necessary for the structure of the novel, though: Will's adventures in the wonderland enabled the versatility of details and fragments of the multi-form gay culture. Also, the development and maturing of Will's character during the latter part of the book was essential for a deeper analysis of the insider bubble. Meanwhile, the framework of a gay community and underground culture itself seemed to be rather truthfully described: a complete exclusive world in which one is 100% accepted, nobody has to fight against 'public opinion' or claim recognition for who they are, never being reproached or abused for their behaviour... but also a tightly-knit brotherhood/gossip/solidarity network.
As to the symbolism, a light-weight underwater existence and the subculture & easy living were nicely paired up. A pool has its shallow end and the deep end. At the extreme shallow end, 'a swimming-pool library' = a place to freely pick up and borrow boys... I know I'll never be able to use the word 'library' in quite the same way again :-) The cover design is just brilliant and sooo suggestive of what's to be expected inside. The scarlet trunks... the very image of a subculture: you fail to see it if you have no idea, but once it's revealed to you, everything's just in-your-face obvious...
I'm in the mood for some 1980s Pet Shop Boys now :-) Maybe I'll choose the album Behaviour or Introspective... Got to love the lyrics!
Finally finished The Swimming-Pool Library. It took me a while to get into it, but in the end I did like it; even though at times it felt like a Colm Tóibín novel gone wrong... Anyway, quite enjoyable!
Will send on asap!
Thanks Cathryn88 for sending it out on a ring.
WILD RELEASE NOTES:
Releasing to the next member on the list - Arturogrande. April 3rd 2nd Class mail.
I knew what to expect, having read Hollinghurst before, so I wasn't surprised or shocked by the explicit descriptions of gay sex. They are central to the novel and to the undestanding of Will Beckwith's character.
CatharinaL's journal entry is spot-on, and I don't think I can add anything to better describe the book and the author's intentions.
After this, I'm putting Hollinghurst's other novels - The Folding Star and The Spell - onto my wish list.
Thanks very much, zzz, for sharing this. It's now on its way to Xanthe-pup.
I will read and send on in the next couple of weeks. Once again, sorry.
WILD RELEASE NOTES:
On its way to Ontario!
It was okay, it wasn't great. And now, it is off to the next reader.
As for the sex scenes, I didn't find them all that explicit and I don't think any heterosexual who was around in the 60's and 70's will find the sexual excess surprising.
I want to compliment CatharinaL on her excellent review - one of the best I've seen on Bookcrossing.
The book is in the mail to fungirl503 and should arrive early this week.
I like the way charles is explaining the water bath that they have come across that is all dried up. In the spring the water used to come through the gravel and clay and fill the water bath up.
this book is going to the next person on the list and I will pm them right now for their address
WILD RELEASE NOTES:
quinnsmom is next
Thanks for including me...I've been wanting to read this for a while.
Alan Hollinghurst is truly a fine writer, and to do this book justice, I think a person would need to reread it. I won't rehash the plot here, but I must say that I couldn't put this book down once I'd started it. I plan on buying my own copy and starting it all over again so that I can pick up any nuances I may have missed. Don't give up on it...keep reading, because it all makes total sense at the end.
Thanks for including me; I am really happy I was able to read this book. I thought it was quite well written and that the twist in the plot was magnificent.
I'm glad I signed up for it - previous journal entries have me intrigued. The print *is* awfully tiny though...
Thanks, zzz and laurarn (and all the BCers before and in between!)
The main character - wow. Could he have been more self-involved? Even when he's talking about his friends' and lovers' troubles, somehow it's ALL about him and how HE felt about their problems. He jumps anything with three legs, and then gets bent out of shape when one of his lovers steps out on him. And yet somehow I couldn't dislike him - I just shook my head and thanked my lucky stars *I'm* not one of his "friends".
My one complaint - the end. What, exactly, was this book about? Just when I thought it was going nowhere, things started to tie together - and then it stopped. There were some things I would have liked more info on. Or maybe the point was that Beckwith didn't care enough to follow up on them. In my opinion, trying not to give spoilers, it should have ended later (with a little more wrapping up) or earlier (shortly after Beckwith made a shocking discovery). On the other hand, this was a first novel and otherwise extremely well-written, so I suppose it's not fair to come down too hard on it.
Overall, I really enjoyed this. I've PMed for buffra's address.
I think I may have realized something that makes the end a bit clearer, but I still think it's the weakest part of the book. It really could have been clearer. Perhaps I'm just being fussy - that's what participating in a critique group will do to you. It was well done, anyway, and I'll keep a lookout for Hollinghurst's other work.
This book showed up in my mail, looking a bit tattered, but OK. I have no idea what happened to it -- the postman said something about a jam in the processing machine, but he wasn't sure.
Anyway, it's here now. Thanks!
I think I'll pass it on pretty quickly. I tried to read another Hollinghurst and really couldn't get very far, so I'll see about sending it on ASAP.
Thank you all for participating :)
PS If someone is interested in reading Hollinghurst's "Spell" (I have "Folding Star" but is on my TBR pile and "The Line of Beauty" as well) feel free to e-mail me :)