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 a compelling 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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You may have read the hype. Irishman Jamie O'Neill was working as a London hospital porter when his 10-year labor of love, the 200,000-word manuscript of At Swim, Two Boys, written on a laptop during quiet patches at work, was suddenly snapped up for a hefty six-figure advance. For once, the book fully deserves the hype.
In the spring of 1915, Jim Mack and "the Doyler," two Dublin boys, make a pact to swim to an island in Dublin Bay the following Easter. By the time they do, Dublin has been consumed by the Easter Uprising, and the boys' friendship has blossomed into love--a love that will in time be overtaken by tragedy. O'Neill's prose, playing merrily with vocabulary, syntax, and idiom, has unsurprisingly drawn comparisons to James Joyce and Samuel Beckett, but in his creation of comic characters (such as Jim's pathetic but irrepressible father) and in the sheer scale of his work, Charles Dickens springs to mind first. But Dickens never wrote a love story between young men as achingly beautiful as this.
In the character of Anthony MacMurrough, who is haunted by voices as he pursues his illegal and dangerous desire for Dublin boys, O'Neill has created a complex and fascinating center to his novel, rescuing the love story from mawkishness, and allowing a serious meditation on history, politics, and desire. For as Ireland seeks its own future free of British government, so Jim, Doyle, and MacMurrough look back to Sparta to find a way to live. As Dr Scrotes, one of MacMurrough's voices, commands:
Help these boys build a nation of their own. Ransack the histories for clues to their past. Plunder the literature for words they can speak.In this massive, enthralling, and brilliant debut, Jamie O'Neill has indeed done just that: provided a nation for what Walt Whitman calls, in O'Neill's epigraph, "the love of comrades." --Alan Stewart, Amazon.co.uk About the Author:
Jamie O'Neill is the author of two previous novels, Disturbance and Kilbrack, or Who Is Nancy Valentine? He was brought up and educated in Dun Laoghaire, County Dublin, then lived in England, and has now returned to Galway, in Western Ireland. For the past ten years O'Neill worked as a night porter in a London psychiatric institution while writing and researching At Swim, Two Boys.
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Book Description Scribner, 2001. Book Condition: Good. N/A. Instructor's Edition. Former Library book. Shows some signs of wear, and may have some markings on the inside. Bookseller Inventory # GRP89591774
Book Description Scribner, 2001. Book Condition: Very Good. N/A. Former Library book. Great condition for a used book! Minimal wear. Bookseller Inventory # GRP93649006
Book Description Scribner, 2001. Book Condition: Good. N/A. Former Library book. Shows some signs of wear, and may have some markings on the inside. Bookseller Inventory # GRP8778902
Book Description Scribner. Perfect Paperback. Book Condition: GOOD. Gently used may contain ex-library markings, possibly has some minor highlighting, textual notations, and or underlining. Text is still easily readable. Bookseller Inventory # 2749711632
Book Description Scribner. Perfect Paperback. Book Condition: GOOD. book was well loved but cared for. Possible ex-library copy with all the usual markings and stickers. Some light textual notes, highlighting and underling. Bookseller Inventory # 2749640211
Book Description Simon & Schuster UK. Perfect Paperback. Book Condition: Good. Book has a small amount of wear visible on the binding, cover, pages. Bookseller Inventory # G0743207130I3N00
Book Description Simon & Schuster UK. Perfect Paperback. Book Condition: Good. Minimal damage to cover and binding. Pages show light use. Bookseller Inventory # G0743207130I3N00
Book Description . Paperback. Book Condition: Very Good. The book has been read, but is in excellent condition. Pages are intact and not marred by notes or highlighting. The spine remains undamaged. Bookseller Inventory # GOR006117358
Book Description . Paperback. Book Condition: Good. The book has been read but remains in clean condition. All pages are intact and the cover is intact. Some minor wear to the spine. Bookseller Inventory # GOR006120566
Book Description Scribner, London, 2001. Trade Paperback. Book Condition: Good. First Thus. 8vo - over 7¾" - 9¾" tall. Bookseller Inventory # 004561