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Condition: Used: Good
Comment: Good condition. Ancillary materials such as CD-ROMs may be missing from used books. May have highlighting, markings, edge/corner wear or light curling of pages. May be ex-library book with standard markings. Veteran-owned home business. Thank you for looking.
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The Swimming-Pool Library Paperback – September 19, 1989


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; Reprint edition (September 19, 1989)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679722564
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679722564
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.2 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #377,068 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

On entering a London public lavatory in blithe pursuit of quick, anonymous sex, beautiful and roguish young aristocrat William Beckwith isconfronted instead with an ancient, doddering member of the British House of Lords who, after muttering an incoherent string of polite non sequiturs, promptly keels over at his feet in embarrassed but undeniable coronary arrest. After saving the old man's life, Will is invited to tea by the grateful and slightly senile Lord Nantwich, who, surprised by Will's impressive lineage and appalled at his state of idle unemployment, engages the young man to write the Nantwich life story. Thus begins the unusual relationship that forms the core of this funny, sad and beautifully written novel. The Swimming Pool Library weaves a rich and fascinating tapestry of Britain's gay subculture spanning pre-World War I through the sexually abandoned early '80s, stopping short at the doorstep of AIDS. Hollinghurst's prose is fresh, witty and wise, and his ever-surprising, sinuously unfurling story is told with insouciant grace and unabashed sexuality. BOMC and QPBC alternates. (September) .
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Library Journal

This novel created quite a stir in Britain and will probably do so herefor it minces no words in providing a realistic glimpse of the gay lifestyle in pre-AIDS London. Yet the approach is much more "literary" than sensational, the author masterfully re-creating a sense of time and place and the social and cultural milieu in which gay men operated. The occasionally graphic descriptions of sex will likely upset some readers, but for most the aura of unselfconscious eroticism will provide a sense of authenticity that only adds to its impact. Still, this is not a nostalgia piece; the author clearly understands that the freedom to satisfy lust often interferes with the ability to find fulfillment and love. Perceptive and well written; belongs in most academic and public libraries. David W. Henderson, Eckered Coll. Lib., St. Petersburg, Fla.
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

I guess my main complaint is the ending.
R. Sears
This is a brilliantly constructed, multi-layered novel rich in both interesting characters and history.
I. Sondel
This is one of the best gay-themed books I have read.
Hasemeister

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

38 of 41 people found the following review helpful By Jay Dickson VINE VOICE on July 8, 2002
Format: Paperback
Alan Hollinghurst may be the most intelligent gay English-language novelist writing today, with the possible exceptions of Edmund White and Gore Vidal, but Hollinghurst is neither so precious as White nor so nutty as Vidal. THE SWIMMING-POOL LIBRARY was his first effort, and remains his best. It marvelously captures the life enjoyed by a wealthy, handsome, leisured, and predatory London aristocrat, William Beckwith, in the early Eighties, and the way his life changes when he meets Chalres Beckwith, a titled man whom Beckwith incorrectly assumes lived a life very similar to his own. The novel is basically about the absence of gay history at the time it was written, and the ways in which privilege and security can be taken for granted. The book read very differently in 1988 (at the darkest moments of the AIDS crisis) than it does today, and its message seems less elegiac in many ways than before. It's not a novel without its problems: although Beckwith is clearly intended to be understood as morally blinkered (and he does get a something of a comeuppance eventually), his incessant vanity and self-congratulation does make him eventually a bit of a bore as first-person narrators go. Hollinghurst also witholds crucial information about the plot until the very last fifty pages of the novel, as he did in his next effort THE FOLDING STAR, so that you're not even fully aware of what the mystery guiding the novel's action really is until fairly late in the game. While this makes the final revelation more of a surprise, the book reads much better the second time than the first, when (as again with THE FOLDING STAR) there seems to be little plot to sustain your interest. Most readers have found Hollinghrust's third book, THE SPELL, the weakest of his efforts so far: it will be interesting to see if he can either repeat or surmount the success of THE SWIMMING-POOL LIBRARY.
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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful By D. Movahedpour on October 26, 2002
Format: Paperback
This novel is well-written, and vacillates between extremely well-written fiction and minutely detailed erotica. The story centers around Will, a promiscuous, narcisscistic, wealthy gay young Londoner in the pre-AIDS era of the early 1980's. Will has no financial or moral restrictions. He leads us on a journey through the hot summer of 1983, that is at times graphic, and also historically engrossing.
Will Beckwith's adventures are by far some of the most graphically-detailed I have ever read, but highly erotic for both gay and straight readers. Concurrently, Will encounters an elderly British Lord who wants Will to write his life story. There is an undercurrent of duplicity in all of his relationships, from his passionate, physical affair with the young, uneducated hotel employee, Phil, to the exact nature of his professional dealings with his Lordship. Also, there is a pitying tone to his relationship with his best friend, a doctor who is also gay, but who is the only person who seems to have Will's heart, instead of his libido.
This is not your ordinary novel. Alan Hollinghurst is an extremely intelligent writer, who can also write with an almost animalistic sense of depravity. It is almost like reading two novels; on one page, extremely explicit sex, on another, intellectual stimulation. It is certainly one of the most unique books of its kind I have ever read.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 7, 1999
Format: Paperback
I recently re-read this book. It is a unique amalgam of very serious, high tone fiction and highly graphic, unadulterated scenes involving the kind of sexuality that would not make it into books that school systems adopt for even advanced high school courses. The narrator is rather selfish, aristocratic, but also appealing, in that, he makes no excuses for his human failings. At times, the depiction of gay haunts and habits is highly satirical, for example, the repeated references to "Trouble for Men," a cologne which wafts through the changing room of the swimming pool club that the narrator frequents [perhaps a dig at the extreme popularity which the Calvin Klein fragrance "Obsession" once had.] There is a two-tier structure to the work that is a little bit hard to deal with: the modern protagonist is contrasted with a man from an older era, whose life in earlier decades, when gay men were more in the shadows is meant to provide a counterpoint to the relative freedom which the younger man enjoys. This book is a rich, complex work which repays close reading and rereading.
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20 of 23 people found the following review helpful By I. Sondel VINE VOICE on March 19, 2005
Format: Paperback
Alan Hollinghurst's "The Swimming-Pool Library" is considered a classic of gay literature (and justly so). However, I contend that this novel is so good that it transcends any such categorization. This is a brilliantly constructed, multi-layered novel rich in both interesting characters and history. An aimless young man (rich and beautiful) leads a life of leisure, replete with hedonistic sexual encounters. Looking for sex in a public restroom, the young man encounters eighty-something Lord Nantwich, who proceeds to have a heart attack. Our hero performs CPR, saves the old gents life, and a friendship ensues. The Lord enlists the young man to write his life story - which as it turns out has been a very interesting life. Lots of other things happen as this relationship developes. Does the biography get written? Well, that's the story, and I'm not going to give anything else away. This is a work of empowering literature. Hollinghhurst is a brilliant writer. Don't miss this beautifully realized book.
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