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.
At swim 2 boys is the best gay themed fiction I ever had. At the same time, it is much more than that. Jamie O'neill is a great storyteller. Read morePublished 11 days ago by Marc
Though difficult to read - oh, was it ever worth the effort. I found myself transported to Ireland during a confusing and painful time; so many issues in play.Published 2 months ago by TRACY DE PUE
At Swim Two Boys deserves so much praise it is difficult to know where to begin. The language is absolutely gorgeous. Read morePublished 6 months ago by Laurence R. Bachmann
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 8 months 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 10 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 11 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 14 months ago by Craig Howard