Fellow Book Worms :)

Monday, April 16, 2012

Sneaky-Peeky Sunday: The Swimming Pool Library by Alan Hollinghurst

I am reading this amazing novel by Alan Hollinghurst called 'The Swimming Pool Library'. It was a literary sensation and bestseller in both England and America, and is an enthralling, darkly erotic novel of gay life before the scourge of AIDS. There are certain readers who may not like the book, and for those of you who may have any objections to this book, I would request you to either refrain from making any comments here, or if you do, please keep them polite and positive. Here's the page I am reading currently:

'...their constraint, thickening up, and aching as it did so after the pounding it had lately been taking.

 At first I used to feel embarrassed about getting a hard-on in the shower. But at the Corry much deliberate excitative soaping of cocks went on, and a number of members had their routine erections there each day. My own, though less regular, were, I think, hoped and looked out for. There is a paradoxical strength in display; the naked person always has the social advantage over the clothed one (though the naked person can forget this, as innumerable faces show), and under the shower I was reckless.

 The effect of this on others, though, was not necessarily a good thing. It would be vain to pretend that all the men at the Corry looked like the stars of a physique magazine. There were gods - demi-gods, at least - but a place which gathered the fantasies of so many, young and old, was bound to have its own sorry network of unspoken loyalties, stolen and resented glances, ungainly gambits and humiliating crushes. This naked, mingling, which formed a ritualistic heart to the life of the club, produced its own improper incitements to ideal liaisons, and polyandrous happenings which could not survive into the world of jackets and ties, cycle-clips and duffel-coats. And how difficult social distinctions are in the shower. How could I now smile at my enormous African neighbour, who was responding in elephantine manner to my own erection, and yet scowl at the disastrous nearly-boy smirking under the next jet along?

 I first met James at Oxford, where he had heard of me but I knew nothing of him: it was at one of the little parties organised by my tutor at Saturday lunchtimes, with red and white wine, and nuts - genially queeny occasions where gay chaplains (chaplains, that is to say) and the more enlightened dons mingled with undergraduates chosen for their charm or connections, while one or two very old and distinguished people sat among the standing guests, holding audience and spilling their drinks on the carpet. I was feeling particularly full of myself: I had been fucking a French boy from Brasenose, it was a hot early summer in my second year, and I had the strange experience, on arriving in the crowded college room, of standing just behind my tutor and one of his.....' 

- Debolina Raja Gupta