Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Book Review: "The Pool Boy's Beatitude" (DJ Swykert)

There is, perhaps, nothing so complex as the human mind, and the mental acrobatics through which it rationalizes, assumes, justifies, excuses, explains, and muses.

Jack Joseph has such a mind.

He has an advanced degree in particle physics, and spends a great deal of time thinking about what he knows --- which is that he really doesn't know. Nobody does. Meanwhile, he works as a pool boy for a number of wealthy, eccentric clients.

He's also a functional alcoholic, with a wife from whom he's estranged, an unexpected girlfriend, and a patron to whom he plays "mistress" (if there's such an equivalent in the masculine sense).

The Pool Boy's Beatitude, by talented and eclectic author DJ Swykert, is a testament to the power a single decision can have on someone's life, and the ways in which the consequences of that one decision burgeon to overwhelming proportions.

The work is undoubtedly literary fiction, with elements of romance, dark noir, and the same kind of outlook and ambiance professed by the literary American realism and naturalism movement (think Crane or London).

Rather than an action-oriented work of mass market fiction in one of your everyday genres, Swykert has crafted a character-centered exploration of psyche and internal life, physics and science, humanity and purpose, meaning and love, passion and lust. The themes run thick through the story, seamlessly intertwined.

Perhaps most unusual and arresting is the way Swykert portrays the majority of the characters, from the bartender to Jack's out-of-the-blue girlfriend, as possessing a rich inner life, deeply philosophical, psychological, understated, and poignant. Jack himself is the foremost philosopher, with much of the story underscored by his constant stream-of-consciousness-style thoughts.

As a work of literary fiction, the plot (what happens first, and next, and later) is much less a consideration than each of the characters and their complicated relationships with one another and with themselves. The conclusion of the work, in the same way, is less a triumphant overcoming and more a subtle, concise affirmation of the way things exist: not quite fatalistic, not quite escapist or inherently pessimistic, but certainly not overwhelmingly positive and uplifting, either.

Deep and poignant, different and diffident, wholly unpredictable and familiar, The Pool Boy's Beatitude will force readers to stop and think about reality in entirely fresh ways.

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Author: DJ Swykert
Title: The Pool Boy's Beatitudes
Purchase here:

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this work from the author in exchange for an honest, though not necessarily positive, review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

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