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Subject: Young readers


Author:
Frankie
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Date Posted: Tue, Aug 16 2005, 21:00:58 GMT

Dear Jamie
I bought ASTB with book tokens that I won for being the best in my school at religious studies, it's really because I'm the only catholic at school and my dad's a deacon. I don't know why- I just thought that was kind of funny.The book is poetic and brilliant and bittersweet, and I'm not sure if thats allways brilliant but I certainly thought it was and also very witty (especially the bit when MacEmm kissed the man whose life he had just saved and of course how can aunt Eva's reaction fail to warm your heart).

Its quite funny as well, or it might be, that I got bored halfway through Ulle...sy..es (sorry but my spelling really can be atrocious sometimes),(well not bored, but stream of conciousness can be heavy on a fifteen year old's brain) and started reading At swim.

To be honest I haven't quite finished it yet, I'm still at the Muglins (I know I know) but I need to read the end all in one go. Jamie you must hate people like me but I read the last few pages before I started the beginning so that I could spend the longevity of the book preparing myself for Doyler's Death.

The book really is inspiring, I'm serious, because Im saving up to by a flute (at my age, peripatetic lessons are free now at school so Im taking up all the instruments I can).

I'm quarter Irish and Im so proud of that now that I feel like my hearts going to burst. My greatist regret is that I didn't write about the uprising for my Irish Coursework because after reading ASTB I could made the work come alive. Instead I wrote about the Battle of the Boyne and the Great famine.

Theres only six people in my history class and now I feel like we're the elite at school because we are literally the only people (at school)(Ireland isn't taught untill upper school) who know the difference between Unionists and Nationalists for example. Its an English school and now I can't help thinking that everyone else is so ignorant and I would happilly share At Swim with all my friends who would understand it, the six of them of course, but I'v allready shared other gay themed books with them and I can't really afford to now. Theyr'e not wrong in their assumptions about me but I feel so pathetic without a boyfriend that I'm waiting 'till i've found one to tell them that i'm gay (at the moment) and give them ASTB to make them all a lot more open minded but I can't yet and that' quite painful.

Did you have similar experiences at school? Was it a catholic school you went to? I'm going to one to do my A-levels and I can't wait.

Did you ever meet anyone like jim or doyler at school? If so then I can live in hope yet. But I think that all the people that beautiful are now dead.

The only question I really want to ask is that did you know you had readers this young (15)? I couldn't help thinking that when I picked up the book it would have some sort of age restriction and that the embarassed shopkeeper would send me away. I'v been reading the book on the beach and when friends mums would ask what it was about I would tell them i'd bought it to learn about the easter rising but when they'd asked to read the blurb i would shriek and run away catching the brick of a book to my chest. Honestly, why does the blurb have to have mentions of scandalous nude...

I really have fully understood the book so far (we found out that the romans were gay in English doing julius caeser by shakespeare)and thankyou so much for writing it.

Oh I do have one more question, are english lessons called engligh lessons or Irish lessons in Ireland?

Frankie (15) Norfolk, England.
x

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Replies:
[> Subject: Re: Young readers


Author:
NG
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Date Posted: Thu, Aug 18 2005, 19:52:38 GMT

Hi, Frankie.

Not the person you were thinking you'd hear from probably, but I wouldn't knock the Battle of the Boyne and the Famine-- both great, though tragic, periods of history. That's one thing one has to remember about the field: you're studying how people lived, and unfortunately, the most academically interesting areas are often the most tragic. You're right about the Rising, though. I had heard about it, but never really known what happened. Reading Jamie's novel pushed me to look into it more, so I started a history of the Rising I picked up in Scotland a couple of weeks ago (after a second reading of ASTB). Some time soon, I should head over to Dublin to do the Rising tour and take a look at the south shore, around Dun Laoghaire (Kingstown in the book).

About what you said about feeling "pathetic" without a boyfriend, don't. I realise it's probably easier said than done, but having a relationship for the sake of having one isn't really a good idea, whether you're gay, straight, or somewhere in between. As for coming out to your friends and classmates, you'll figure out when the time is right.

Good luck, and take care of yourself. 8-) And congratulations on the school award.

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[> Subject: Re: Young readers


Author:
Jamie O'Neill
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Date Posted: Fri, Aug 19 2005, 4:01:55 GMT

Dear Frankie, it's such wonderful irony that you should have got At Swim with book tokens for being best-at-class at Religious Studies. Well done. I remember Religious Studies at my school. It was a time for dozing between 12 and 12.30 -- until some young Brother came in (yes, I went to Presentation College in Glasthule, same like Jim in the book) and he more or less turned it into a civics lesson, with questions fired out all ways. The upshot was, no more dozing, till the young Brother himself was fired away, and we were sleepily back to normal.

I guess I get emails from readers of all ages, but of course I would only know the age if I was told. A particularly memorable email came back in 2002, just after At Swim was published, from a 16 year old in Ireland. Well, two years later he was in Trinity College Dublin (the same university Oscar Wilde attended), he had joined the GaySoc there and didn't he have the audacity to invite me to come and read to them. That's growing up for you, too fast. But I had a great evening there with Senator Norris (our famous humanitarian politician -- well famous for us), and it was a pleasure to think there was already a history with the reading of At Swim. A pleasure and a priviledge.

You mention some personal stuff, and I'm not to be giving advice to people, but there was a wonderful French film about a boy falling in love with another boy (I forget its name, I'm sorry) -- but what struck me was that he didn't tell anybody anything until he had fallen in love. So that when he came to tell people (family and friends) he didn't say I'm gay, or I think I'm gay, or whatever -- he just said, This is my boyfriend, and I love him. Aesthetically that was nice; but practically it meant all the attention was focussed on the new person, and the boy had space to watch and witness. The onus of explanation was not solely on himself.

Uncle Jamie is taking his Uncle Jamie's hat off now, and he's just going to say that in Ireland Irish lessons mean Irish (that is Gaelic -- but we rarely use that word here.) English means Shakespeare and Dickens, the same as in England, but without the Bible.

Oh, and Jim and Doyler are still out there, you know. It's sometimes hard to find them in this modern world, but the heart I doubt has changed in a hundred years. Courage hasn't changed, the longing for nobility, for pride, is the same. They're out there still, Jim and Doyler. It's hard to see them for the mobile phones and walkmans, MTV and the web. But they're there, on sportsfields, in music class, feeling their unsure way, falling in love, at swim.

Jamie.

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[> [> Subject: Re: Young readers


Author:
Jon Heaney
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Date Posted: Wed, Aug 31 2005, 0:45:57 GMT

>Dear Frankie, it's such wonderful irony that you
>should have got At Swim with book tokens for being
>best-at-class at Religious Studies. Well done. I
>remember Religious Studies at my school. It was a time
>for dozing between 12 and 12.30 -- until some young
>Brother came in (yes, I went to Presentation College
>in Glasthule, same like Jim in the book) and he more
>or less turned it into a civics lesson, with questions
>fired out all ways. The upshot was, no more dozing,
>till the young Brother himself was fired away, and we
>were sleepily back to normal.
>
>I guess I get emails from readers of all ages, but of
>course I would only know the age if I was told. A
>particularly memorable email came back in 2002, just
>after At Swim was published, from a 16 year old in
>Ireland. Well, two years later he was in Trinity
>College Dublin (the same university Oscar Wilde
>attended), he had joined the GaySoc there and didn't
>he have the audacity to invite me to come and read to
>them. That's growing up for you, too fast. But I had a
>great evening there with Senator Norris (our famous
>humanitarian politician -- well famous for us), and it
>was a pleasure to think there was already a history
>with the reading of At Swim. A pleasure and a
>priviledge.
>
>You mention some personal stuff, and I'm not to be
>giving advice to people, but there was a wonderful
>French film about a boy falling in love with another
>boy (I forget its name, I'm sorry) -- but what struck
>me was that he didn't tell anybody anything until he
>had fallen in love. So that when he came to tell
>people (family and friends) he didn't say I'm gay, or
>I think I'm gay, or whatever -- he just said, This is
>my boyfriend, and I love him. Aesthetically that was
>nice; but practically it meant all the attention was
>focussed on the new person, and the boy had space to
>watch and witness. The onus of explanation was not
>solely on himself.
>
>Uncle Jamie is taking his Uncle Jamie's hat off now,
>and he's just going to say that in Ireland Irish
>lessons mean Irish (that is Gaelic -- but we rarely
>use that word here.) English means Shakespeare and
>Dickens, the same as in England, but without the Bible.
>
>Oh, and Jim and Doyler are still out there, you know.
>It's sometimes hard to find them in this modern world,
>Dear Frankie, Just read your note, and Jamie's wonderful reply. Let me assure There are still Doylers and Jims out there. Rememeber to hang on to your values, and your beliefs that one day you too will travel in the midst of such great individuals. The one wonderful thing about our society today is we no longer have to hide our sexuality as they did in 1916.
I speak as a 58 yr old guy, who has been in a wonderful relationship for 24 years with my own Jim/Doyler romantic, and giving in every way. We have since reading ASTB refer to one another as "Pal of me Heart"It is truly one of the most loving books I have read. So hang in there Frankie,and keep the good thought.You too will meet your Doyler

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[> [> Subject: Re: Young readers


Author:
Tom
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Date Posted: Thu, Feb 23 2006, 22:04:59 GMT

But they're there, on
>sportsfields, in music class, feeling their unsure
>way, falling in love, at swim.
>
>Jamie.

That line just made me so happy! Thank you!

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[> Subject: Re: Young readers


Author:
david brien
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Date Posted: Tue, Sep 06 2005, 20:36:42 GMT


This is very unusual for me. I live in the USA, and I have managed to travel a bit, and I think I have a minor understanding of how the rest of the world views us. We are idiots, we are crass, we are not refined.

I had the great fortune of growing up in New Orleans. It was f'ing fantastic. I love the place. I love the filth and garbage and even the corruption. I did move away; I went to Boston U., and sometimes I wish I hadn't. I'm 23, and my boyfriend is 19, and I haven't heard from him since. But he's a major asshole, so I'm sure he'll live on if only to make my life miserable. He's a little wild.

I had to force him to read ASTB, but once I did he said he understood how I look upon him. Saying this belittles the book, but what he got out of it was that I'm the smart guy who makes the bucks and he's the bad boy... who's antic challenge me. Ideal? I don't know. I like it. And that makes me think sometimes I'm more immature than he is.
His parents & siblings love me; they hope I can calm him down. My folks and friends don't like him; they say he's bad for me. AS I imagine if our hero lived in a more enlightend era he would have disapproved of Doyler.

I've gone on too long, I apologize, I'm a bit out of sorts.

Dave


>Dear Jamie
>I bought ASTB with book tokens that I won for being
>the best in my school at religious studies, it's
>really because I'm the only catholic at school and my
>dad's a deacon. I don't know why- I just thought that
>was kind of funny.The book is poetic and brilliant and
>bittersweet, and I'm not sure if thats allways
>brilliant but I certainly thought it was and also very
>witty (especially the bit when MacEmm kissed the man
>whose life he had just saved and of course how can
>aunt Eva's reaction fail to warm your heart).
>
>Its quite funny as well, or it might be, that I got
>bored halfway through Ulle...sy..es (sorry but my
>spelling really can be atrocious sometimes),(well not
>bored, but stream of conciousness can be heavy on a
>fifteen year old's brain) and started reading At swim.
>
>To be honest I haven't quite finished it yet, I'm
>still at the Muglins (I know I know) but I need to
>read the end all in one go. Jamie you must hate people
>like me but I read the last few pages before I started
>the beginning so that I could spend the longevity of
>the book preparing myself for Doyler's Death.
>
>The book really is inspiring, I'm serious, because Im
>saving up to by a flute (at my age, peripatetic
>lessons are free now at school so Im taking up all the
>instruments I can).
>
>I'm quarter Irish and Im so proud of that now that I
>feel like my hearts going to burst. My greatist regret
>is that I didn't write about the uprising for my Irish
>Coursework because after reading ASTB I could made the
>work come alive. Instead I wrote about the Battle of
>the Boyne and the Great famine.
>
>Theres only six people in my history class and now I
>feel like we're the elite at school because we are
>literally the only people (at school)(Ireland isn't
>taught untill upper school) who know the difference
>between Unionists and Nationalists for example. Its an
>English school and now I can't help thinking that
>everyone else is so ignorant and I would happilly
>share At Swim with all my friends who would understand
>it, the six of them of course, but I'v allready shared
>other gay themed books with them and I can't really
>afford to now. Theyr'e not wrong in their assumptions
>about me but I feel so pathetic without a boyfriend
>that I'm waiting 'till i've found one to tell them
>that i'm gay (at the moment) and give them ASTB to
>make them all a lot more open minded but I can't yet
>and that' quite painful.
>
>Did you have similar experiences at school? Was it a
>catholic school you went to? I'm going to one to do my
>A-levels and I can't wait.
>
>Did you ever meet anyone like jim or doyler at school?
>If so then I can live in hope yet. But I think that
>all the people that beautiful are now dead.
>
>The only question I really want to ask is that did you
>know you had readers this young (15)? I couldn't help
>thinking that when I picked up the book it would have
>some sort of age restriction and that the embarassed
>shopkeeper would send me away. I'v been reading the
>book on the beach and when friends mums would ask what
>it was about I would tell them i'd bought it to learn
>about the easter rising but when they'd asked to read
>the blurb i would shriek and run away catching the
>brick of a book to my chest. Honestly, why does the
>blurb have to have mentions of scandalous nude...
>
>I really have fully understood the book so far (we
>found out that the romans were gay in English doing
>julius caeser by shakespeare)and thankyou so much for
>writing it.
>
>Oh I do have one more question, are english lessons
>called engligh lessons or Irish lessons in Ireland?
>
>Frankie (15) Norfolk, England.
>x

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[> Subject: Re: Young readers


Author:
Jon
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Date Posted: Tue, Oct 18 2005, 2:52:21 GMT

What a beautiful post, and a beautiful reply. I guess the writer never truly puts down his pen.

I'm so glad that Jims and Doylers are out there. I look forward to meeting one of my own.

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[> [> Subject: Re: Young readers


Author:
Jon
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Date Posted: Tue, Oct 18 2005, 3:03:18 GMT

OO, and Frankie, if you'd like you can email me or add me to msn messenger at jonjoncoleman@hotmail.com I'm always interested in chatting about At Swim with a boy sorta close to my age (I'm 22)

Hope to hear from you

Jon

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