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A Guy's Moleskine Notebook

Thoughts and reflections on works of fiction and literature. Pondering of life through pictures and words. Babbling about gay rights. Travelogues and anecdotes.

  • [1] Annie Proulx: Brokeback Mountain
  • [2] Arthur Golden: Memoirs of a Geisha
  • [3] Yu Hua: To Live
  • [4] Alan Hollinghurst: The Line of Beauty
  • [5] Colm Toibin: The Master
  • [6] Carlos Ruiz Zafon: The Shadow of the Wind
  • [7] William James: The Varieties of Religious Experience
  • [8] Charles Higham: The Civilization of Angkor
  • [9] Graham Greene: A Burnt-Out Case
  • [10] Dai Sijie: Mr. Muo's Travelling Couch
  • [11] Alan Hollinghurst: The Swimming-Pool Library
  • [12] Mikhail Bulgakov: The Master and Margarita
  • [13] Colm Toibin: The Blackwater Lightship
  • [14] Alan Hollinghurst: The Folding Star
  • [15] Ross King: Michelangelo and the Pope's Ceiling
  • [16] Fyodor Dostoevsky: The Brothers Karamazov
  • [17] Jonathan Franzen: The Corrections
  • [18] Colm Toibin: The Story of the Night
  • [19] John Banville: Shroud
  • [20] Leo Tolstoy: Resurrection
  • [21] Peter Hessler: River Town, Two Years on the Yangtze
  • [22] Ian McEwan: The Atonement
  • [24] Gabriel Garcia Marquez: Love in the Time of Cholera
  • [25] Ignacio Padilla: Shadow without a Name
  • [26] Umberto Eco: The Name of the Rose
  • [27] Richard Russo: Straight Man
  • [28] Fyodor Dostoevsky: Notes from Underground
  • [29] Alan Hollinghurst: The Spell
  • [30] Hermann Broch: The Death of Virgil
  • [31] James Baldwin: Giovanni's Room
  • [32] Ken Kesey: One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest
  • [33] Xingjian Gao: One Man's Bible
  • [34] C. Jay Cox: Latter Days
  • [35] Harper Lee: To Kill A Mockingbird
  • [36] William Shakespeare: The Taming of the Shrew
  • [37] Daniel A. Helminiak: What The Bible Really Says about Homosexuality
  • [38] James Baldwin: Tell Me How Long the Train's Been Gone
  • [39] Kenji Yoshino: Covering - The Hidden Assault of Civil Rights
  • [40] Italo Calvino: If, On a Winter's Night A Traveler
  • [41] Arthur Phillips: The Egyptologist
  • [42] George Orwell: 1984
  • [43] Michael Warner: The Trouble with Normal: Sex, Politics, and Ethics of Queer Life
  • [44] Andrew Sullivan: Virtually Normal
  • [45] Henry James: The Wings of the Dove
  • [46] Jose Saramago: Blindness
  • [47] Umberto Eco: The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana
  • [48] Dan Brown: Da Vinci Code
  • [49] Kazuo Ishiguro: Never Let Me Go
  • [50] Ken Follett: The Pillars of Earth
  • [51] Leo Tolstoy: War and Peace
  • [52] Michael Thomas Ford: Alec Baldwin Doesn't Like Me
  • [53] Jonathan Franzen: How To Be Alone
  • [54] Jonathan Lethem: The Fortress of Solitude
  • [55] Matthew Pearl: The Dante Club
  • [56] Zadie Smith: White Teeth
  • [57] Fyodor Dostoevsky: The Double
  • [58] Jose Saramago: The Double
  • [59] Andrew Holleran: Dancer from the Dance
  • [60] Heinrich von Kleist: The Marquise of O & Other Stories
  • [61] Andrew Holleran: In September, the Light Changes
  • [62] Tom Perrotta: Little Children
  • February 01, 2006

     

    [11] The Swimming Pool Library - Alan Hollinghurst

    The Swimming-Pool Library is a literary fiction with a shimmering elegance about a young aristocrat who lives off his inherited estate and leads a life of promiscuity. A chance meeting with Lord Nantwich, an old Africa hand and founder of the prestigious London Wick's Club, lands William Beckwith into a research project that evolves to become the old man's biography. Wovens with his assiduous riffling of Lord Nantwich's materials are nuanced episodes of sexual rapport William engages with men at whom he flirtatiously smiles at the gym. The prose is ebulliently literary and suggestive, but not prurient. Page after page of the novel is riddled with the elaboration of bare intimacy, the explosive liberation of libido, the palpitating anatomy that preludes to carnal pleasure, and the audacious verbalization of physical gestures. Something masculine momentarily bridles as our protagonist ventures into casual number with strangers.

    The writing of Lord Nantwich's biography is as much a matter of probing his memory for links and identifications and of reading his personalia as examining his own life for William. The old man's eventful and seemingly eccentric life so often evokes and echoes William's own feelings, and at times brings him to the edge of difficult emotional terrain. The arrival of his anti-gay grandfather, who has spent all his life in circles where good manners, conservative family values, and plain callousness conspire to avoid any recognition or vestige that homosexuality even exists, intensifies the poignancy of such feelings.

    Leading his life the way he does, it is strangers who by their very strangeness quickens William's pulse and makes him feel alive. Regardless of the irrational sense of absolute security that springs from the conspiracy of carnal pleasure with men, shares something more genuine and cultivated with his close friend James with whom the friendship is sealed with a playfulness, privacy, tenderness, secrecy and a tacit understanding. William and James somehow enact some charade, whose very subject is secrecy, one that even permits his reading of James' diary from which he is obliged to see himself from his friend's perspective. The friendship, though has remained sexless for a long time, nourishes a nervous pleasure at the certainty of companionship when needed. The friendship preponderates the kind of seize-the-moment relationship William shares with Phil, who might have lived a double life as William begins to suspect at the faintly sickening possibility of his being unfaithful.

    The Swimming-Pool Library exposes the day-to-day episodes of gay life. Nipping into a library of uncatalogued pleasure is a realm of halt, darkness, and unknown possibility. It is in this uncharted territory where the difference between sex and companionship becomes blurry. William's affair with the underage bellboy Phil is one of ephemeral pleasure, glutting eroticism, and raw voluptuousness. Lies beneath all the vivid illustration of desires is the concern of an emptiness that has, for example, manifested in James: when one is beyond love, where does pleasure lie? Is there ever an end to the irresistible, normal craving for sex? Or does this go tauntingly on? The root of his loneliness and eccentricities, his uninvestigated and inhibited private life, is not uncommon to everyone: the humiliation of stark rejection and the terrible feeling that no one ever notices him or remembers him.

    The Swimming-Pool Library, a 1984 debut, is an enthralling, darkly erotic novel of homosexuality before the scourge of AIDS. It welds the standard elements of fiction to a tale of transgressions with the emphasis being on sensitive and censurable materials. It tells of impurities with shimmering elegance, of complications with a quick wit, and of truths with a fiction's solidity. It embodies a gloomy, sober, and functional underworld-full of life, purpose, and sexuality.

    7 Comments:

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    6/11/2010 11:31 AM  
    Anonymous Kamagra Gel said...

    The Swimming-Pool Library is without doubts one of the greatest book i have read in my entire life. I honestly thought it was gonna be boring, because I hate fiction, but I was wrong, its ideology is simply fascinating.

    11/16/2010 9:42 AM  
    Anonymous Sildenafil said...

    I think that Lord Nantwich's biography is very interesting because his live is exciting, by the way his books are really good, I've read one of them and I love it so much.

    11/17/2010 5:35 AM  
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    12/27/2010 11:16 PM  
    Anonymous Miami Information said...

    wow amazing, this book looks so interesting, and fascinating, because is the story of a gay man. In our society they are very rejected, so this is an amazing way to be reminded

    4/03/2011 12:25 PM  
    Blogger Matthew (The Bibliofreak) said...

    Thanks, I really enjoyed your review. I think the crux of the matter for me is that what could have been an interesting storyline, with Will identifying with Nantwich's former self, is over-shadowed by the frequent sex scenes. I wanted more from Will on an emotional level, some kind of development. Still, beautifully written.

    My review: The Swimming Pool Library by Alan Hollinghurst

    1/24/2012 4:51 AM  
    Anonymous Spa Covers said...

    I cannot wait to read this book!

    3/12/2012 1:47 PM  

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