At Swim, Two Boys by Jamie O'Neill

Into the Wild

Read At Swim, Two Boys Online Free - Praised as “a work of wild, vaulting ambition and achievement” by Entertainment Weekly, Jamie O’Neill’s first novel invites comparison to such literary greats as James Joyce, Samuel Beckett and Charles Dickens.

Set during the year preceding the Easter Uprising of 1916—Ireland’s brave but fractured revolt against British rule—At Swim, Two Boys is a tender, tragic love story and a brilliant depiction of people caught in the tide of history. Powerful and artful, and ten years in the writing, it is a masterwork from Jamie O’Neill.

Jim Mack is a naïve young scholar and the son of a foolish, aspiring shopkeeper. Doyler Doyle is the rough-diamond son—revolutionary and blasphemous—of Mr. Mack’s old army pal. Out at the Forty Foot, that great jut of rock where gentlemen bathe in the nude, the two boys make a pact: Doyler will teach Jim to swim, and in a year, on Easter of 1916, they will swim to the distant beacon of Muglins Rock and claim that island for themselves. All the while Mr. Mack, who has grand plans for a corner shop empire, remains unaware of the depth of the boys’ burgeoning friendship and of the changing landscape of a nation.

Title : At Swim, Two Boys
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 0743222954
Edition Language : English
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 562 pages


Fabian rated it ★★★★☆

September 28, 2017

Is it Mr. O'Neill's thesis that a novel can become even more memorable than a song? In this lyrically-dense and character-driven novel, prose beautifully attempts to become lyric and vice versa: the story's universal edge gives it a gravity that's more resolute than even that of legend. The dialo...

Lane rated it ★★★★★

August 30, 2007

Wow. From first to last an amazing book. Be sure to read the first edition; later American editions omit a difficult prefatory section written in unrelentingly difficult Irish and from the perspective of a drunkard. It's not for nothing that one reviewer called O'Neill the love child of Oscar Wil...

Kirstine rated it ★★★★★

January 30, 2018

I almost quit reading this book after the first few pages. It wasn't anything about the story, it was the language. I never expected it to be so Irish, and me, having never read anything by an Irish author before, was thoroughly confused for the first 20 pages at least. And then my brain got used...

K.D. rated it ★★★★☆

July 08, 2011

If Russia has Leo Tolstoy and Anna Karenina, Ireland has Jamie O’Neill and At Swim, Two Boys. The milieu of Anna was Russia few decades before the Russian Revolution in 1917 that abolished the Tsarist autocracy and installed Soviet Union. O’Neill’s milieu was that of Ireland during the 1916 Easte...

Charles rated it ★★★★★

October 23, 2007

An astonishing book, big and flawed and driven and filled with love and anger. I can't recommend it too highly. Other reviewers here have mentioned that it takes some getting into, but only if you don't let the ear do part of the work of reading. Listen to what O'Neill is doing with the language,...

Gerry rated it ★★★★★

November 28, 2010

Shortly after I reviewed Gay Male Fiction Since Stonewall, I received a note from author Les Brookes suggesting I read At Swim, Two Boys by Jamie O’Neill [Scribner, 2002]. I took him at his word, and I am ever so happy that I did. This is an epic tale (576 pages) that has been compared to such he...

Jane rated it ★★★★★

April 15, 2009

This book is the "Wuthering Heights" of gay-themed fiction. Among the tragically sparse population of novels about same-sex relationships that aren't relegated to the Gay Fiction section but are allowed to rub shoulders with the rest of the mainstream and literary fiction, O'Neill's book stands a...

Sala Bim rated it ★★★★★

December 24, 2017

I found this book to be so beautifully written. It is a very moving, dense yet quiet, tender coming-of-age story of youth and friendship and love. I didn't find it to be pretentious, or contrite, or over-the-top, nor was it bogged down by the silly, cliche plot devices that so many modern writers...

James rated it ★★★★☆

January 15, 2009

This very Irish novel by Jamie O'Neill was a sometimes frustrating, but ultimately wonderful book to read. The combination of a luscious prose style and interesting love story combined to provide for an enjoyable experience for this reader. The main characters came alive over the course of this l...

Alicja rated it ★★★★★

December 17, 2014

rating: 6/5 At its core, this is a love story. Two 16 year old boys, a college boy, Jim Mack and a laborer, Doyler Doyle, make a pact to practice swimming for a year so on Easter of 1916 (unknowingly to them a time of the Easter Rising and Irish rebellion), they will swim to a beacon of Muglins R...

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