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 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
This is a beautifully written story about 2 boys coming to age in 1916-18 in a small town outside of Dublin, Ireland. Read morePublished 25 days ago by Susan Johnson
Two boys in love, a young man in love with them, the beginning of irish final rebellion for independence. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Veset
A vivid well-written pull-no-punches story of growing up poor and gay and Irish in the middle of war and rebellion.Published 4 months ago by Samuel F Adams
I've been fighting with this book for the last five days -- I say "fighting" because I've had to throw it down in frustration at points only to pick it back up [when I... Read morePublished 6 months ago by Craig Howard
This is the best novel I've read in some time. (actually I'm re-reading it and it's still the best) There's compelling historical drama, and did I mention a great love story? Read morePublished 7 months ago by Don's kindle
I had no idea what I was getting into with this book. It was shown in a Goodreads list of historical fiction (my favorite genre) so I picked it up. Read morePublished 8 months ago by Montana Mackay
Remember that feeling when you struggled through Spanish class in high school, and years later you complimented a Latin American street artist in passable-enough Spanish that it... Read morePublished 9 months ago by Teresa Bruce
I read this book years ago and picked it up again to read for a second time while on vacation. The story of the boys' relationship is lovely, particularly as it is set against the... Read morePublished 13 months ago by TS
This is an incredibly powerful and important piece of literature - in my humble opinion. The naked honesty and the brutal circumstance the reader is forced to immerse themselves... Read morePublished 14 months ago by B D