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Swim the Fly Paperback – April 13, 2010

4.6 out of 5 stars 50 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Calame has a screenwriting background, and it shows—his hilarious debut resembles nothing so much as the crude-yet-insightful comedies of producer Judd Apatow. See if this rings a bell: three 15-year-old buddies make a pact to see a naked girl before the summer is over and in the process mire themselves in increasing trouble and constant humiliation. All three are on the summer swim team, and, in a desperate attempt to impress the superhot new girl, Matt agrees to swim the dreaded butterfly at championships, despite the fact that he can barely tread water. At the same time, he’s dealing with his horny grandpa, a sadistic swim instructor, and his pals’ wacky schemes to catch a glimpse of bare skin, which includes dressing up like girls and entering a women’s locker room. That would’ve worked if it weren’t for the accidental dose of laxative . . . well, you get the idea. Although Calame underuses his moments of poignancy, teen readers will have a blast puzzling out the creative vulgarisms. “Pants hamster” is just the beginning. Grades 9-12. --Daniel Kraus --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

About the Author

Don Calame is a screenwriter whose film projects include EMPLOYEE OF THE MONTH and HOUNDED. Of his many prior occupations, he says his most satisfying was teaching elementary school for four years in Los Angeles, where he received the LAUSD District Intern Golden Apple Award and a Los Angeles Education Partnership Grant. He lives in British Columbia.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Candlewick; Reprint edition (April 13, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0763647764
  • ISBN-13: 978-0763647766
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 1 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (50 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #684,946 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I was eager to get Swim the Fly by Don Calame. Because it is, in a word, hilarious. But being an English major, I can not be concise and therefore must use words to describe this novel: uproarious, rollicking, fun, and side-splitting come to mind.

Matt's about to spend the summer the way he and his friends, Coop and Sean, always do: competing against each other to be the first to reach a goal. This summer's goal? To be the first to see a real live naked girl. Soon Matt's got another goal to reach: swimming the 100 yard butterfly on his swim team to impress his crush Kelly and the new girl on the swim team. To accomplish this, Matt seeks the help of a eccentric and nearly-sadistic swim instructor, Ulf, who tortures Matt with his unorthodox training methods. Meanwhile, the race to reach the guys' goal continues with hilarious results.

Calame's background as a screenwriter (Employee of the Month and the Disney Channel original movie Hounded) shines throughout the novel, as each page is perfectly paced, beat by beat. Here the laughs really are a mile a minute. As each plan fails - some the fodder of popular teen shows, such as nude beaches, hiding in the locker room - they get more wild and ridiculous, but always hilarious. Whether it's the mishaps due to a powerful new laxative or an ill-fated trip to a nude beach, Matt and his friends never fail to bring the laughs. Although slightly crude, like films of the Jude Apatow ilk, Swim the Fly still packs a lot of heart. The rest of the novel is rounded out with great moments by his family, including a grandfather sweet on a widowed neighbor. Not just a boy book, it's a great summer read and one that'll be packed in my beach bag this summer!
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Like all great comedies, Swim the Fly transcends "funniness."

In addition to the almost incontinence-causing hilarity, this book is true to life, capturing the awkward, sometimes mortifying experience of being an adolescent, while entertaining with brilliant characters, snappy dialogue and a gripping, redemptive story.

The novel is full of witticisms that stick in my memory, but are probably unprintable here (I haven't read Amazon's review policy). Calame has that rare gift of fiction writers -- a fresh, unique and memorable voice.

He has hit the ball out of the park here.

p.s. I had the same feeling of hearing an original voice that I did when watching Juno. I hope this, too, is made into a movie.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I'm not a laugh-out-loud kind of reader. But I found myself, probably about a quarter of the way through, snickering, with my wife asking "what's so funny?" By the halfway point, I was beyond snickering and just plain laughing out loud. And the big bonus? It's got HEART. I love books with heart. You feel for these kids, you understand them, you cheer for them, and in their trials you see yourself a little, and what's important in life: compassion, family, real friends, and doing the right thing even when it hurts.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I bought this for a group of students who weren't big readers and quite frankly reluctant to read anything. When they read the synopsis of this novel the whole group of them said, "Let's read it!" and they did! They would come into chat about the story and what they thought about the characters. This group of boys liked the novel so much they actually made a short iMovie trailer for it.
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Format: Hardcover
I spotted this for my 13 year old swimmer son and read large parts myself after he fell asleep. Reminded me of Carl Hiaason (his adult fiction, Skinny Dip), fast very well written and creative. My 15 year old picked it up and said, "I won't like this, I'm not on a swim team." I think he later read it twice. Laugh out loud funny and yes, the consensus in our household is that it would make a great movie. Buy this for your teen and enjoy it yourself.
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Format: Hardcover
Best friends Matt Gratton, Coop and Sean always set a goal for themselves each summer. This year Coop has come up with the best one so far: to see a "real, live naked girl" for the first time. Matt doesn't think they will find a way to achieve it, but the trio creates several elaborate plans to make their dream come true. Most of them fail, but one "fool proof" idea actually succeeds; sort of.

If that weren't enough, the teens are also on the Rockville swim team. Their coach needs someone to "swim the fly" (the 100-yard butterfly), which is generally considered the toughest stroke. Matt volunteers, even though he can barely do the butterfly, much less swim it competitively for such a long distance. He wants to impress the newest member of the team, Kelly West, who has turned from an ugly duckling into a beautiful swan. So what if Kelly is going out with the best swimmer on one of the opposing teams, a buff guy whose best stroke is the butterfly?
When Matt tries to train his body to meet the rigors of the race, he runs into all kinds of trouble, like trying to sneak into a private pool so he won't have to practice in front of his friends and accidentally trashing his brother's room when he's using his brother's weights to build his muscles.

While reading SWIM THE FLY, it's easy to identify with Matt's fears and insecurities. He's skinny and geeky, and not the type of guy beautiful Kelly would be impressed with. It's hard to imagine him ever being tough enough to "swim the fly" for 100 yards, either. Yet you find yourself rooting for him to succeed, despite all the obstacles.
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