Submarine

( 11 )

Overview

The dryly precocious, soon-to-be-fifteen-year-old hero of this engagingly offbeat debut novel, Oliver Tate lives in the seaside town of Swansea, Wales. At once a self-styled social scientist, a spy in the baffling adult world surrounding him, and a budding, hormone-driven emotional explorer, Oliver is stealthily (and perhaps a bit more nervously than he?d ever admit) nosing his way forward through the murky and uniquely perilous waters of adolescence. His objectives? Uncovering the secrets behind his parents? ...
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Submarine

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Overview

The dryly precocious, soon-to-be-fifteen-year-old hero of this engagingly offbeat debut novel, Oliver Tate lives in the seaside town of Swansea, Wales. At once a self-styled social scientist, a spy in the baffling adult world surrounding him, and a budding, hormone-driven emotional explorer, Oliver is stealthily (and perhaps a bit more nervously than he’d ever admit) nosing his way forward through the murky and uniquely perilous waters of adolescence. His objectives? Uncovering the secrets behind his parents’ teetering marriage, unraveling the mystery that is his alluring and equally quirky classmate Jordana Bevan, and understanding where he fits in among the pansexuals, Zoroastrians, and other mystifying, fascinating beings in his orbit.

“It’s in my interests to know about my parents’ mental problems,” he reasons. Thus, when he discovers that his affable dad is quietly struggling with depression, Oliver marshals all the daytime-TV pop-psychology wisdom at his command–not to mention his formidable, uninhibited powers of imagination–in order to put things right again. But a covert expedition into the mysterious territory of middle-aged malaise is bound to be tricky business for a teenager with more to learn about the agonies and ecstasies of life than a pocket thesaurus and his “worldly” school chum Chips can teach him.

Ready or not, however, Oliver is about to get a crash course. His awkwardly torrid and tender relationship with Jordana is hurtling at the speed of teenage passion toward the inevitable magic moment . . . and whatever lies beyond. And his boy-detective exploits have set him on a collision course with the New Age old flame who’s resurfaced in his mother’s life to lead her into temptation with lessons in surfing, self-defense . . . and maybe seduction. Struggling to buoy his parents’ wedded bliss, deep-six his own virginity, and sound the depths of heartache, happiness, and the business of being human, what’s a lad to do? Poised precariously on the cusp of innocence and experience, yesterday’s daydreams and tomorrow’s decisions, Oliver Tate aims to damn the torpedoes and take the plunge.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
A New York Times Book Review Editor’s Choice
 
“[Joe Dunthorne is] probably destined to be compared with Mark Haddon and Roddy Doyle.”—The Miami Herald

“This absolutely winning debut novel isn't so much a coming-of-age tale as it is a reflection on what it means to be a certain age and of an uncertain mind.”—Los Angeles Times
 
“A brilliant first novel by a young man of ferocious comic talent.”—The Times (London)
 
“[Dunthorne’s] precocious talent and cheerful fondness for the teenage male are showcased in Submarine. . . . Oliver’s voice is funny and dead-on.”—The New York Times Book Review
 
“Preternaturally wise, slightly devious and highly entertaining.”—USA Today

From the Trade Paperback edition.

Sarah Towers
Submarine is full of…cheekiness. Dunthorne's prose, channeled through Oliver's voice, is funny and dead-on.
—The New York Times
Publishers Weekly

Welsh-born Dunthorne delves in his debut into the mind of a troubled 14-year-old boy obsessed with his virginity, his parent's failing marriage and the dictionary. Growing up in Swansea, Wales, Oliver Tate is curious about everything going on around him. Fixated on the personal lives of his parents and neighbors, Oliver compulsively keeps a log of his observations, activities and thoughts, many of which revolve around his new girlfriend, Jordana, she of the fully developed breasts and snogging experience. The two become inseparable and eventually wind up together in the sack. Oliver also believes his mother is having an affair with a family friend, and his growing suspicion leads to a half-baked investigation that only complicates matters at home. As Oliver and Jordana's relationship plays out and the truth about Oliver's mother is revealed, Oliver takes some lumps and learns a few lessons. Some readers will be turned off by Oliver's cruelty-among other things, he bullies an overweight girl at school and poisons Jordana's dog-and others by his precociousness (his log entries include word-of-the-day vocab lessons), but Dunthorne's creation is a true original. (Apr.)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Kirkus Reviews
The small world of Oliver Tate is detailed in this limp first novel by a young Welshman. Oliver is almost 15, the only child of middle-class parents in Swansea, South Wales, and a self-absorbed smartass. His best friend is Chips, the school bully; he and Oliver make life such hell for a fat girl called Zoe that she's forced to transfer. On a family vacation in Tuscany, he's too busy tricking his father into rescuing him from a mock drowning to notice he's in a foreign country. The story he narrates is sprinkled with diary entries and e-mails; brand names lend it a spurious reality. The first time he has sex it's with his girlfriend Jordana in his parents' bed. (The bed could use the action; the marriage of Oliver's parents is going through a rough patch, and they haven't had sex in months.) Oliver's mother Jill goes to a meditation retreat run by an old friend, Graham, a New Age type who Oliver believes is bent on seducing her. He follows her there, planning an "intervention," but comes off looking like a self-dramatizing jerk, in contrast to the calm, long-suffering adults. (This episode, and its later ramifications, are what you get to chew on in lieu of a plot.) He doesn't manage any better with Jordana, whose mother is having an operation for a brain tumor. Jordana has become newly sensitive to those around her, a sensitivity Oliver has no use for; he ignores her in her hour of need, so naturally she dumps him. Then Zoe shows up, more attractive and many pounds lighter, and devises an ingenious payback. Poor Oliver; it's just not fair. Is suicide the answer? He ends his story with a grandiose vision of his corpse being plucked from the ocean; the shot is all over the Internet and CNN.Any coming-of-age moment is still a long way off. Sharp observations don't count for much beside such an unappealing protagonist. Agent: Georgia Garrett/AP Watt
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781400066834
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 3/25/2008
  • Pages: 320
  • Product dimensions: 5.75 (w) x 8.51 (h) x 1.14 (d)

Meet the Author

Joe Dunthorne was born and brought up in Swansea, South Wales. His poetry has been featured on Channel 4 and Radio 3; he has performed at festivals including Glastonbury, Hay-on-Wye, and Latitude. Now twenty-five, Dunthorne lives in London. Submarine is his first novel.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 11 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(6)

4 Star

(2)

3 Star

(1)

2 Star

(1)

1 Star

(1)

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Sort by: Showing all of 11 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 29, 2008

    Fantastic book, reminds me of holden caulfield

    So I read a lot, usually a book a week, and this is one of the best books I've read in the past couple of years. The narrator, Oliver Tate, is hilarious and brilliant and adorable and also sometimes rude all at the same time. I fell in love with him, and found myself laughing out loud in public at certain parts, something that rarely happens to me. And certain lines were just so perfect I read them over and over. Simply enough, the book was fantastic and I definitely recommend it to all interested.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 1, 2014

    Nice

    Guy on the cover is hot!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 18, 2011

    I Also Recommend:

    If you like Youth in Revolt...

    When I was reading this book it reminded me so much of Youth in Revolt (the book not the movie) Its a funny read about a boy and his life: parents, school and his first love. I urge people to read this if this is the type of genre you enjoy. Its not hard to read, and its relatively short, but it moves at a good pace.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 27, 2011

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    Posted November 5, 2011

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    Posted July 27, 2011

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    Posted May 22, 2011

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    Posted August 7, 2011

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 25, 2012

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 17, 2011

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    Posted April 21, 2011

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