Friday, October 16, 2015

Review by Coll! The Pool Boy's Beatitude by D.J. Swykert. 5 Coffee Cups!

The Pool Boy's Beatitude
by D.J. Swykert
Genre: Literary Fiction

In space, the expansion of the universe exceeds the speed of light. In a jail cell the speed of light slows, time ages and deteriorates slowly to a crawl.

Jack Joseph understands physics. He understands the nature of quarks, leptons, dark matter and the desire to find the God particle. What Jack doesn’t understand is Jack.

He has a Masters degree in particle physics, an ex-wife, a sugar mama, a passion for cooking and chronic dependencies he needs to feed. He cleans pools to maintain this chaotic lifestyle.

Spinning about in a Large Hadron Collider of his own making, the particle known as Jack is about to collide with a particle known as Sarah.

Review by Coll

My Rating: 5 Coffee Cups!

**I was given a copy of this book by the author in exchange for an honest review.**

This book was not what I expected it to be, and I say that in a positive way. Jack Joseph is your atypical particle physicist turned pool boy and full-time alcoholic. He is incredibly knowledgeable about the universe and fully aware of the lack of definitive answers to any of the questions in life. This unnerves him to the point of becoming an alcoholic who part-time self-medicates with prescription drugs to quit his addiction. He is a man who is unable to hold an honest relationship, and ultimately a person who just does not understand who he really is. Then he meets Sarah, a woman who does to him what no one else has yet been able to do, she makes him want to change into better person. Through the course of this book we follow Jack, with an insider’s view of his life. Following an ex-physicist pool boy’s life might not sound very intriguing but trust me it is, and you have no idea what’s in store when you tag along with Jack Joseph.

The Pool Boy’s Beatitude is a very intelligent book, from the language to the subject matter to the science, psychology, and philosophy behind it. D.J. Swykert did an amazing job of weaving all these complex ideas together in a smart and entertaining manner. On a base level the book deals with what happens when you give up hope, but on a more complex level it tackles basic human needs, weaknesses, vices and love. Jack knows so much but what he doesn’t know are concrete, scientific answers to the universe and life, and he has a hard time dealing with this. He turns to alcohol as a coping mechanism and seems to sabotage himself over and over again as he struggles to come to terms with himself and reality. There is also a continuous, internal struggle of who is to blame for his actions.  We see in him the alcoholic’s tendency to blame others and the world around them for their mistakes and actions, but we also see him blame himself and take responsibility for who he is and where his life has gone. The reader is witness to a man fighting with the good and bad inside himself, a struggle we each go through every day of our lives.

From the beginning I found this book to be reminiscent of Douglas Adams in terms of the style and the humor and intelligence behind it. It also reminded me of philosopher and author Albert Camus, who dealt a lot with coming to terms with the uncertainty and futility of life and how to deal with living. Where the first half of this book deals with Jack’s downfall at the hands of his questions, vices, and self-sabotage, the second half tackles his struggle to better himself, understand the things he can, and rebuild his life.

This book shows us is that not even the smartest people out there, the ones who understand the universe and space and physics, can fully understand themselves and life. It also shows us that it is okay not to understand everything, as long as we can understand what makes us happy. In Pool Boy’s Beatitude, Swykert focuses on human nature and our struggle and desire to understand the universe and ourselves. It is a very smart book and a very human book. I really enjoyed reading it, partly due to my love of the universe and philosophy, but also because it is a well-written and engaging book. It may not be for everyone but if you want a book that touches on deeply philosophical issues, challenges human behavior and our understanding of the world we think we know, then this book would definitely be for you. D.J. Swykert tells a story we can understand and created a character we can relate to. Jack is not a hero, in the heroic sense, and he is not perfect. He is human. He is a person doing the same thing everyone else in the world is doing, trying to be happy.

“I awake believing coincidence solves most problems, answers most questions. Most of science believes we are a cosmological accident and everything was created from an explosion of a primeval atom, a Big Bang, not a lick of which they can prove. This is what we do know: beyond any reasonable doubt our universe began, we are here. Prior to us being here there was nothing; during and after the beginning there was something. This is the state of cosmology, what we believe we know about creation. No wonder billions of us choose to pray.”

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