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The swimming pool library by Alan…
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The swimming pool library (original 1988; edition 1998)

by Alan Hollinghurst

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1,746337,000 (3.76)98
This novel centres on the friendship of William Beckwith, a young gay aristocrat who leads a life of privilege and promiscuity, and the elderly Lord Nantwich, who is searching for someone to write his biography.
Member:m_leigh
Title:The swimming pool library
Authors:Alan Hollinghurst
Info:London : Vintage, 1998.
Collections:Your library
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The Swimming-Pool Library by Alan Hollinghurst (1988)

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English (30)  Dutch (2)  Finnish (1)  All languages (33)
Showing 1-5 of 30 (next | show all)
I'm quitting this. It's well written, but, having put it down to read something else, I feel no inclination to pick it up again. The first sentence of the Goodreads blurb says it all.
  pgchuis | Sep 28, 2019 |
When you know nothing about a book but pick it up because it has the word "library in the title...

(Ok, so I'm slowly working my way through the 1001 books to read before you die and I would have gotten around to it sooner or later, but still...)

Very well written. But ultimately not at all my cup of tea. ( )
  Sammystarbuck | Sep 2, 2019 |
While not literally read so, this came on the heels of 'Dancer from the Dance' for me, and I'm afraid it suffered in comparison. 'The Swimming-Pool Library' is set in a similar time and has a majority of homosexual characters, but by all other standards the two shouldn't be compared so. The style and tone of the two are much different. Likely because Hollinghurst writes of the world not during its zenith but looks back at it wistfully.

The author differs with me, but the hedonistic world William revels in is far too icky for me to be comfortable reading about. The clear, limpid prose only highlights the discomfort. I can set a lot of things aside, and some authors can even get me to see the value of this level of debauchery...but not this one. The plot of the novel eventually brings the aristocratic William Beckwith to a moral dilemma that doesn't deal with who he's fucking at the moment. Hollinghurst seems to point towards a change of character, a discovery of moral fiber, but it seems to me to be a triumph of his laziness. It is very easy to do the right thing when the right thing is doing nothing.

I liked the book enough while reading, but when pressed to say why, I can only say it was elegant. ( )
  ManWithAnAgenda | Feb 18, 2019 |
St. Barts 2019 #3 - This was a very unexpected read...grabbed it randomly off my shelf for vacation. It was unexpectedly graphic early on, and i thought i might be in for a bit of a sleazy novel of sorts....but then it started going in different directions....and while it remained unexpectedly sexually explicit, it also did a lot more. It was rather 2 stories in one....a current story and one from a few generations back.....the struggle for societal acceptance of gay behavior...both from the 1920'-50's.....and again in the present of the story, the 1980's.....all of this told from the point of view of a rather spoiled rich kid with titled forebears living a carefree and reckless London life of fun and promiscuous frolic, not having to work, who spends time almost daily at his local club with gym, swimming pool, and of course, the showers.....and he is enticed to consider writing the biography of an older, fading gentleman of similar ilk from 2 generations prior he met there.....creating a remarkable revelatory adventure of learning about himself, his family's past, and where he might be heading, all the while piecing together the earlier life of his subject. Interesting, occasionally unexpected, thoughtful, and again, explicit..... but in a seemingly very honest way rather than the gratuitousness i thought i was in for. An insightful story that chronicles the earlier struggles for acceptance that are now oft forgotten and taken for granted. Did not expect to like it when i began, and it ended up with 4 stars, which surprises even me. ( )
  jeffome | Jan 10, 2019 |
Will Beckwith, a young man in his 20s, is cruising for sex in a public restroom when 80-year-old Lord Nantwich collapses from a heart attack. As others scatter so they are not discovered in a known location for cottaging, young Will resuscitates the victim, and in so doing, saves his life.

The two acquaintances are on their way to becoming friends when the old lord requests that Will write his memoirs, which Will discovers are not altogether tame. There is a vast difference in their ages but the younger is seemingly living a parallel life to what the elderly gentleman lived. Their lives contain excess debauchery at a time before the threat of AIDS. As wild as young Will is, he is still a bit turned off and offended by some of the old lord's antics.

Their lifestyle of flitting around from one new sexual conquest to the next, even when they feel like they are in love with a regular partner, may be a combination of their personal tastes and friendship circles and/or the fact that homosexual men would have had to find safe places where they could be themselves; often leading them to bathhouses, gay cinemas, public restroom "cottaging" or to similar places where they were free to openly express and enjoy their sexuality, which tended to be environments of complete hedonism.

These two characters were an enigma. Most of the time I wasn't sure whether I liked them very much for they both had little regard for anyone but themselves and seemed to thrive on their own power and control over others; from the outside looking in, they both come across as abusive. ( )
  AddictedToMorphemes | Nov 28, 2017 |
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Epigraph
'She reads at such a pace,' she complained, 'and when I asked her where she had learnt to read so quickly, she replied, "On the screen at Cinemas."'
The Flower Beneath the Foot
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Information from the Dutch Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
For Nicholas Clark
1959-1984
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I came home on the last train.
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This novel centres on the friendship of William Beckwith, a young gay aristocrat who leads a life of privilege and promiscuity, and the elderly Lord Nantwich, who is searching for someone to write his biography.

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Alan Hollinghurst's first novel is a tour de force: a darkly erotic work that centres on the friendship of William Beckwith, a young gay aristocrat who leads a life of privilege and promiscuity, and the elderly Lord Nantwich, who is searching for someone to write his biography
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