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The Swimming Pool Library by Alan Hollinghurst

This book was about the homosexual experience at a certain time and place in history (England in the mid-twentieth century).

This book is brimming with gay lust and I found reading it triggering at first.

The main character was a mid-twenties gay aristocrat in England who came from “old money”.

In the space of that 300 pages he must have fucked 15 or 20 men. Each sex scene was a different gay fantasy it seemed.

One thing which I found morally questionable was that the protagonist (and many other characters in the book) preferred boys? So I am not sure why this isn’t considered pedophilia.

They also seemed to prefer black men and on the other hand when the only Chinese character in the book showed an interest in him he loudly threatened to break his neck.

It’s been an exercise in humanity to listen to these people who are so remote from my life. There’s nothing I would want from and no reason to know anyone like this. And vice versa.

This is because the entire book seemed like it was living in some gay bubble… a fantasy where every man walking down the street could have his body vividly described as a sexual object and that they could be a potential sexual encounter.

In terms of the actual story, the main plot-line was about how he had been asked to write the biography of the elderly gay man Lord Charles Nantwich. Much of the book was reading from his diaries of his time in Africa lusting after and seducing young African men (or even boys?).

I didn’t relate much with the protagonist… I thought he was a bit of a man-whore. He didn’t seem to make much of a transformation which sort of made the book seem like it was just written as a sexual fantasy book.

At one point one of his gay friends got arrested for homosexuality… which was confusing because it seemed like the gay sex was completely normal to the main character even in public places like bathrooms. Certainly a man could be “picked up” from almost anywhere.

I suppose intellectually the most I could say about this book was that it was a window into the gay fantasy… to be a young, good-looking man who comes from old money and has the power to seduce what seemed like not only any gay man but even straight men too.

Even though it was quite foreign to me, as a psychologist-in-training I felt that it was worthwhile to read so that I am better able to hold space for people with very different lifestyles.


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