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Nightswimmer Paperback – December 1, 2000

37 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Intensely personal and infused with a rare degree of immediacy, Olshan's ( Clara's Heart ) first venture into gay-themed fiction succeeds on several levels. A dramatic death brings Sean Paris into the life of narrator Will Kaplan, who is still haunted by the disappearance 10 years earlier of his lover. Was Chad struck down by a ship during one of the duo's frequent nocturnal swims off the California coast, or did he purposefully vanish from Will's existence? Hampered by Will's obsession with Chad (and lingering attachment to ex-lover Greg) and by Sean's harmful concealment of parts of his own past, the two can only skirt the edges of involvement. What might initially appear a protracted game of musical beds, however, has deeper undercurrents, as the novel's beautifully etched characters explore the themes of longing and loss. With the constant fear of AIDS looming over its vivid Manhattan setting, Olshan's story spins out through flashbacks within flashbacks--indeed, nearly all of the novel is one long remembrance . In consequence, the plot occasionally becomes difficult to follow, but readers who navigate these waters will be richly rewarded.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

"Nightswimmer" is the sobriquet Will Kaplan uses for his first lover, who disappeared while swimming in the Pacific with Will several years ago. Because the young man's body was never recovered, Will has not accepted his death and has vigorously avoided emotional attachments for almost 10 years. Then he meets Sean Paris, a stunningly beautifiul landscape architect, at a friend's apartment and falls instantly in love. Sean, too, has for years been pining away for a lost love and has also been avoiding relationships. Sean's life is further complicated by another relationship, with a young artist who, we learn late in the novel, killed himself because Sean didn't return his love. Readers will also come to view the term nightswimmer as a metaphor for the enigmatic mood Olshan gives this tale of three men's search for missing love. Olshan writes with a sensitive, caring tone that imparts an extra dimension to his characters. Highly recommended for collections where gay literature is popular. Charles Harmon --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Berkley Trade (December 1, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0425176614
  • ISBN-13: 978-0425176610
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.6 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,465,174 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Joseph Olshan is the award-winning author of nine novels. His broad-ranging subjects vary from the wise, tough-minded, hilarious Clara Mayfield who became the model of the film character based on his novel, Clara's Heart, to an aristocratic, politically savvy Italian novelist who lives in a villa in Tuscany (The Conversion). His forthcoming novel, Cloudland (St. Martin's April 2012) is based on a true crime story: the serial murders of 6 women that occurred in the Connecticut River valley of Vermont and New Hampshire, crimes that were never solved. His writing has been translated into sixteen languages. He lives between Vermont and Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Ryan Flynn on April 10, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
While I had read mostly decent reviews of "Nightswimmer", I went into this book with a bit of skepticism. So often, gay-themed novels barely qualify as true literature. Thankfully, Joseph Olshan is a first-class author who takes this multi-dimentional story and enhances it with a very unique perspective--written almost as an extended, detailed love letter. It is refreshing to find a book about mature men who question and struggle with love, passion, relationships, commitment, and the role personal history plays in each one's future. A definite read for anyone looking for a quality story about love and loss that just happens to feature gay men.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Grady Harp HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on October 8, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
Joseph Olshan has achieved a nearly impossible task: a successful novel about the kaleidoscope of emotional rides that constitute the anticipation, the terror, the neuroses/psychoses, the obsession and the gamut of highs and lows of that strange encounter called 'falling in love'. Not that potent love stories are oddities, but when the characters are all males in varying degrees of acceptance/indulgence of being gay, such rollercoaster rides often become either merely taudry, steamy sex encounters or distanced longings such as the wondrous "Maurice" of EM Forster. Nightswimmer takes us many places we know and more places we haven't been, and does so in such convincing style that we feel like part of the in-crowd of these perfectly drawn characters. For the reader who wants to understand both sides of the approach/avoidance magnet of being hopelessly in love, here it is. With enough use of metaphor to keep the story universal, Olshan has written a durable novel that already is showing the test of time. I'm happy this book is becoming more available. Recommended highly - thanks to a friend's recommendation!
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Michael T. Rognlien VINE VOICE on August 25, 2001
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Nightswimmer was actually the very first item I'd ever written a review for here at Amazon. I don't know what ever happened to it, but the book remains my favorite of all the gay fiction books I've ever read. Most gay fiction centers around name brands, a-list stars and a-list cities, lots of gossip and overblown scandals/dramas. While those books are fun to toss in the beach bag on a nice summer day, Olshan created a story that hits much closer to home in the lives of many gay men. He writes about relationships in a palpable way - love, love lost, and love found again. It's really neither gay nor straight, but an exploration of how gay men in particular tend to cling to relationships of the past, leaving pieces of themselves behind until they have the chance to reclaim them in finding new love. He does not glamourize his characters nor does he attempt to apologize for their flaws or shortcomings. They are who they are, and they are well-crafted and quite realistic. The haunting melancholy of the past and the trepidation the main character, Will, has about his future is beautifully written and the story remains a favorite of all the friends I've loaned this fine book to - get it for yourself, you won't be disappointed.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Robert W. Piercy on October 15, 2002
Format: Mass Market Paperback
OK, I picked up the book thinking it was going to be a light read for a long airline flight. It turned into my own journey of self. The author challenged me to face the fact that I did many of the same things as the narrator. I constantly think of the "one" who left me (did he really leave? Is he reading this?) and finding Sean's journals - what would YOU do? This has been the frist book in a long long time where I dreaded the impending last pages. Not in the way it ended but that I was so wrapped into the breath of the book I did not want to end the journey. My vacation - - I can't even tell you what or where I was - - but I will remember this book, sitting on a beach and wondering if NIGHTSWIMMER is in front of me OR if Sean is behind me. Great Job - -and sorry guys - - I know some of us have been here - -but it is good to read our own story and have to re-examine what we are doing!
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By katie ev on July 6, 2005
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I was really looking forward to reading this book, just because I'm rather fond of drama novels and the like. But, to be honest, I think I got my hopes a bit too high. While at first, I was completely drawn in by the story, style of writing, complexity of characters, etc. I was a bit disappointed by the end.

In the beginning, Nightswimmer was strong, it had many different elements and was rather realistic. However, it kept going on, and it got rather repetitive in my mind, and pretty... bland? Along with it, I got lost a few times with mentions of random people and places. I just didn't like it. As a previous reviewer stated, the only reason I read it was because it kept me reading on. It kept me hooked, but not necessarily interest. I was more interested in getting it over with, or looking forward to it improving in the end. It didn't happen, though. Not for me.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Sunday Morning on February 23, 2006
Format: Paperback
This was a beautiful book. The author really nailed the character and his story of lost love. Never self-pitying or saccharin, or tarted up with an easy redemptive happily ever after. It would be a mistake to think this is just for a gay or male audience, the themes resonate for all of us.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 22, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
In words that flow as graceful as a river and strike as sharp as a waterfall, Joseph Olshan has vividly captured the unbearable ordeal of taking another chance at love. In haunting prose, he has begun to unlock a mystery of the human heart -- how it yearns to be loved, yet can't bear to let go of the pain which has been too familiar. By beginning to unlock this door, the reader is compelled to open it, revealing inner wounds which has never healed -- wounds which are always felt, but ignored in fear of recognizing its self-inflicted nature. The author has painted a remarkably bleak tale of this truth, conjuring tidal waves of loneliness, nostalgia, regret, hope and understanding. Using the perfect metaphor for life -- water -- he shifts waves of undiluted empathy to his tortured characters, involving the reader to their inner turbulences, confusing the compass to a calmness that is dreamt by all, but at the same time dreaded for its unmistakable stillness. I was touched by the sheer power if this story, saddened by my subsequent reflections on our plight to find companionship and nearly driven to tears after realizing how much of oneself is torn in the process.
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