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John SchwartzIn the war between the sexes on the young adult bookshelves, Swim the Fly occupies the low ground of offensive, knuckleheaded fun. Which is to say, boys will probably love it. This one did.
—The New York Times
Matt Gratton and his two best friends, Sean and Coop, always set themselves a summer-time goal. This year’s? To see a real-live naked girl for the first time. As far as Matt is concerned, they’d have better luck finding the lost city of Atlantis. But seeing a girl in the buff starts to seem like child’s play compared to the other summertime goal Matt sets for himself: to swim the 100-yard butterfly (the hardest stroke known to God or man) in order to impress Kelly West, the hot new girl. So what if he can’t ...
Matt Gratton and his two best friends, Sean and Coop, always set themselves a summer-time goal. This year’s? To see a real-live naked girl for the first time. As far as Matt is concerned, they’d have better luck finding the lost city of Atlantis. But seeing a girl in the buff starts to seem like child’s play compared to the other summertime goal Matt sets for himself: to swim the 100-yard butterfly (the hardest stroke known to God or man) in order to impress Kelly West, the hot new girl. So what if he can’t manage a single lap, let alone four? He’s got the whole summer to perfect his technique. What could possibly go wrong?
“Raunchy (but mildly so) hilarity ensues.” - People Magazine
“Serves up jokes and gross-outs in the style of filmmakers like Judd Apatow. . . . Boys will probably love it. This one did.” — The New York Times Book Review
“Hilariously raucous scenes stuff its pages.” - Los Angeles Times
Screenwriter Calame debuts as a novelist by perfectly channeling the adolescent male mindset. Matt, Cooper and Sean, swim teammates since third grade, hold the local record for the "largest collection of green fifth-place ribbons." In addition to hanging out poolside, each summer they choose a project. This year, Coop, 15, announces their objective will be to see a girl naked. Since none even has a girlfriend, deviant hijinks ensue, including some (dressing in drag to sneak into the girls' bathroom) that strain credibility. Meanwhile, narrator Matt sets an even more unattainable goal-volunteering to swim the grueling 100-yard butterfly to impress the team's star backstroker, "smokin' hot" Kelly West. (Coop points out the flaw in Matt's plan: "I'm sure Kelly finds the sight of a scrawny, pasty white dude flopping around in the water like a spastic salmon very hot.") The boys' pursuits make for a hilarious, if raunchy, what-I-did-last-summer narrative, supported by a cast of memorable adults, including a take-no-prisoners swim coach and Matt's grandfather, who is on a parallel romantic journey. This one will spread like athlete's foot in a locker room. Ages 14-up. (Apr.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Matt Gratton, 15, and his friends Sean and Coop challenge themselves with a summer goal to view a naked girl. Although a difficult aim for three nerdy guys, it is nothing compared to Matt's trying to impress Kelly, the girl of his dreams, by volunteering for the nearly impossible 100-yard butterfly at a local swim-team competition. To satisfy their goal, the boys dress up as females and try to sneak into the girls' locker room at the community center. The plan is foiled when Matt has a sudden, outlandish bowel movement. Another time, he sneaks into a country-club pool to practice and meets Ulf, a swim instructor who forces Matt to take his torturous class. Additional incidents stretch belief; others edge on disturbing. Sean and Coop try to peep at Kelly and her friend Valerie in a dressing room, and Coop slices the swim suit of the disliked major contender in the butterfly competition so it tears off in public and Matt ultimately wins. Vomiting and other raunchy episodes and comments throughout have mixed results. Nevertheless, the book holds interest, largely due to Matt's fumbling attempts, at last, at standing up for what's right, the well-portrayed twist that Valerie is the perfect match for him, and his grandfather's quirkiness. Teens looking for realistic guy humor will find amusement here, but a better choice is Steven Goldman's Two Parties, One Tux, and a Very Short Film About The Grapes of Wrath (Bloomsbury, 2008).-Diane P. Tuccillo, Fort Collins Regional Library District, CO
"Movies don’t count," Cooper says. "The Internet -doesn’t count. Magazines don’t count. A real, live naked girl. That’s the deal. That’s our goal for this summer."
"Been there, done that," Sean says.
"Taking baths with your sister -doesn’t count, either, Sean." Cooper snorts.
"Screw you, meat stain. I haven’t done that since I was, like, two, okay. And that’s not what I was talking about," Sean says.
We’re walking up to the pool. Cooper, Sean, and me. Bare feet tucked into untied sneakers, ragged towels draped around our necks. It’s our first day of swim practice, which means that summer’s really started. We’ve been friends since kindergarten. We’ve been on swim team since third grade. The Rockville Swimming Association. Six years as Lower Rockville Razorbacks.
"He’s talking about Tina Everstone’s left boob," I say as we turn onto Maple Drive and walk along the curb.
"Oh, please. Not that again." Cooper rolls his eyes.
"It’s true. I saw the whole thing when she was taking off her sweatshirt during gym. Her T-shirt came up just enough"
"And she wasn’t wearing a bra and her left one popped out and you saw the entire thing, nipple and all, and even if I didn’t think you were lying to us, it still wouldn’t count," Cooper says. "I’m talking totally naked. Not a quick flash, okay?"
"Whatever." Sean shrugs and looks off at the rundown ranch houses like he doesn’t care what we think.
"How are we supposed to see a live naked girl?" I say. "Maybe we better set a more realistic goal for the summer. Like finding Atlantis."
"Matt, Matt, Matt." Cooper puts his arm around me like he’s my wise uncle. "That kind of attitude will get you nowhere in life. Don’t you get it? You have to follow the natural way of things. It’s like that picture in our bio textbook. First there’s the monkey. Then there’s the caveman. Then there’s the human. It’s the same with sex. First there’s Internet porn, then there’s seeing your first real naked girl, and finally it’s the dirty deed. You do want to have sex someday, don’t you, Matt?"
Every summer there is a goal. It’s tradition. I don’t remember when it started or why. But as long as I can remember, we’ve always come up with something we had to accomplish before the start of the new school year. When we were ten, it was riding our bikes fifteen miles away to Perry Lake and skinny-dipping. When we were twelve, it was going to the Fern Creek Golf Course every day until we collected a thousand golf balls. Over the past few years, the goals have become more centered around girls and sex. Two years ago, each of us had to get our hands on a Playboy and show it to the others. Last year the ante was upped to finding an illegal password for a porn site. And now, Cooper’s challenge for this summer. Which I can’t see ever happening.
Maybe if we were even a little bit cool, or had any chance of getting girlfriends. But that’s just not the case. By the time you’re fifteen, you’ve either had a girlfriend — maybe even had sex — or, like Coop, Sean, and me, you haven’t even mustered the courage to ask a girl out. There’s also a third group, I guess. Guys who say they’ve had girlfriends but who nobody really believes. Which just means they’re liars who fit into the second category.
We make it to Rockville Avenue Pool just in time to hear Ms. Luntz, our swim coach, calling the team over for a meeting. Ms. Luntz is a gourd-shaped woman who wears her blue-and-white Speedo stretched to capacity underneath denim short-pants overalls. Her legs are thick and pockmarked, and purple worm veins bubble up beneath the see-through skin on her thighs. She doesn’t make things much better for herself with her Campbell’s Soup Kid haircut and gigantic pink-tinted glasses. You could almost feel sorry for her, if she wasn’t so nasty to everyone.
"Hurry up, people," Ms. Luntz squawks. "Let’s go, let’s go. Before winter comes. We’ve got important business to discuss."
Cooper, Sean, and me make our way around "the toilet" — a shallow, oval kiddie pool that’s always suspiciously body-temperature warm. My mom says it’s warm because there’s less water in there and the sun can heat it up faster, but nobody’s buying that. Last year, Cooper bet Sean ten bucks he wouldn’t bob for a Life Saver over the painted picture of Elmo, which is where most of the little kids hang out, and Sean did it without blinking an eye. It was pretty sick. Sean kept saying how they put chemicals in the pool for a reason, but there’s no way I could have done that. I feel my stomach lurch now just thinking about it.
We walk along the edge of the adult pool toward the deep end where the diving boards are. I breathe in the sharp chlorine smell and watch the swimmers stringing the swim lane dividers, and it’s like "Yeah, I know this" mixed with "Oh, God, not this again."
We hang back at the edge of the crowd that forms around Ms. Luntz. It’s all the same people from last year. A sea of blue and white Lycra. Guys and girls from seven to seventeen. All of them serious about swim team.
It’s different for Coop, Sean, and me. We do swim team because we’ve always done swim team. Between the three of us, I bet that we have the largest collection of green fifth-place ribbons in the entire league. It’s not like we try to lose. It’s just that we happen to be the three least athletic kids on the team. Maybe even in all of Rockville.
"Okay, so, welcome back and all that crap," Ms. Luntz says, tapping her pen on her clipboard. "It’s another summer, which means another chance to make a run for gold. Our first meet is in three weeks. I want us to set the bar high right away. I want us to take first in this year’s relay challenge."
Coop leans over to me and whispers, "Yeah, and I want to take a whipped-cream bath with...
A. It started out as a short piece (a page-and-a-half scrawl, really) that I wrote in a workshop around six years ago. It was the true story of how my swim coach asked me to swim the hundred-yard butterfly when I was a fifteen-year-old broomstick in a bathing suit and how I was too scared to say no. What followed was a torturous summer of dread as the swim meet approached and I knew that I was going to lose that race in a bad way-to the biggest, strongest kid on one of the other teams. The story sat in a notebook, and I didn't think much about it until my wife mentioned that she thought it would be a great kicking-off point for a young adult novel. She had just published a young adult novel herself and felt there was a real need for material that would appeal to boys on a humorous level.
Q. So what inspired you to really sit down and turn that short piece into your first novel?
A. As I said, it was really my wife's idea. I've been a professional screenwriter for quite some time and was working on a project when she bullied me into putting that project away and start working on Swim the Fly. (I'm sure my wife will be getting a call from my film agent when she reads this.) When I say bullied, I mean it in the nicest sort of way. Basically, she wouldn't let it go. She had a really strong feeling about me writing this book, and if there's one thing I've learned after being married to her for the last six years, it's to never discount her strong feelings about things. So after the thirty-eighth time my wife brought it up, I finally caved and started writing the book.
Q. Why did this story in particular need to be told?
A. I've read a lot of young adult literature, and it took me a long time to find a few truly honest male voices out there-at least, honest in how I remember things: the way my friends and I used to talk and think and act, the ridiculous (and embarrassing) situations we often found ourselves in. I wanted to get down the truth as I remember it: the awkwardness, the camaraderie, the fun, the humor, the terror of being fifteen.
Q. Do you think that Swim the Fly may have a crossover adult audience and why?
A. I hope so. I know that the adults (both male and female) who have read it really enjoyed it. They've told me it evokes the memory of being that age, and all of them said they were laughing out loud. I have a friend who's a sixty eight-year-old superior court judge; he was over at our house reading the manuscript, and when I saw him sitting on our sofa with tears of laughter rolling down his cheeks, that's when I knew I really had something.
Q. Which character did you most enjoy writing?
A. I had a great time writing and getting to know all of the characters. It was a fun book to write from start to finish. Much of the time, I'd just be sitting there writing and making myself laugh. It sounds odd, but it's true. It's the most fun I've had writing anything. And I got just as much enjoyment writing the female characters as the male ones. A lot of times the girls in the book would surprise me by what they'd say or what they'd do, which was exciting. Readers have their own favorite characters, though. From the feedback I've gotten so far, a lot of people seem to love Coop, who's probably the crudest of the boys and also the one who comes up with most of the schemes and plans. I guess there's this feeling of, "What is Coop going to do or say next?" Ulf (the militaristic lifesaving instructor) seems to be another favorite, mostly because of his mangled idioms.
Q. We know that you swam the butterfly when you were fifteen. Were any other parts of the story based on real-life experiences?
A. This is a loaded question-especially considering the things that go on in this novel. I guess the truth of the matter is that none of the things that happen in the book happened in real life, though I've drawn from my own life experiences to "spice the soup," so to speak.
As I said, I did swim the butterflflfly when I was fifififteen, though it wasn't my own choice and I didn't necessarily do it to impress a girl. Also, none of my swim coaches were anything like Ms. Luntz or Ulf. Other than that, my friends and I did think and talk like this; we did play a whole lot of Ping- Pong; we did make up foul drink concoctions that we dared each other to drink; we did hear about a nude beach that we sought out; and there was a girl in sixth grade who had an affinity for Tootsie Pops. So I guess the answer to your question is no, but also yes.
Q. What do you most want readers to take away from this novel?
A. Mostly I'd like my readers to have a good time with the characters and the story-to laugh a whole lot, to be entertained. If people have half as much fun reading it as I did writing it, then I think I've done my job. Other than that, maybe if readers can see themselves or their friends in these characters-to see their vulnerabilities. If they can say, "Yeah, that's how it really is," then that would make me feel good too.
Posted March 4, 2009
SWIM THE FLY is a funny, cute novel about three best friends on a mission - to see a girl "in the buff."
Every summer, the boys get together on the morning of their first day of summer swim team and set a goal. They must complete this goal by the last day of summer. This year, it is to see a girl naked.
The main character, Matt, sets his eyes on Kelly West, the newest addition to the Rockville swim team. Having gone from string bean to smokin' in just one year, Kelly is gorgeous - and Matt can't keep his mind off of her.
Unfortunately, this goal turns out to be far easier said than done.
In just a few chapters, the reader realizes that Matt's other summer goal, swimming the 100-meter butterfly (which is generally acknowledged to be the hardest stroke in the sport of swimming), is far more realistic.
A fast and fun read, I would recommend SWIM THE FLY to boys and girls alike - boys will repeatedly relate to Matt and his friends, and girls will be interested to see a bit into the mind of a typical teenage male. This book constantly delivered laughs and was never too slow or too boring.
I'm looking forward to seeing more from Don Calame in the future!
4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted December 25, 2011
Posted March 6, 2012
SWIM THE FLY… LOL…
I’m glad Don Calame’s wife made him write this book, she seems to know her husband’s humour all too well and had the right believe that others would immediately fall for it. This girl fell for your husband’s writing and the three boys who want to see a real life naked girl. What a funny premise!
Matt, Cooper and Sean’s attempts to see a real life naked girl are awesome. Throughout the entire novel I felt entertained and often had to laugh out loud. You won’t believe what these boys go through to get their girl!
Matt’s voice is fantastic, you simply have to like him. He wants to succeed so badly, that the joke’s often on him.
Several strings of action are interwoven, like Matt wanting to swim the fly, his attempts in love, the boys’ hunt for a naked girl and even Matt’s Grandpa Arlo has something going on.
The plot of swimming and getting the girl is well balanced. I would want some more romance, but since it’s such a boyish read I totally accept the fun and action focus.
Don Calame applies a youthful writing and the voices of his characters are realistic. SWIM THE FLY is a hilarious book and the jokes totally hit my humour nerve, though the parental advice is definitely justified.
I can’t wait to read the sequel to SWIM THE FLY which will be told from Coop’s point of view! I love Matt, but Coop’s the real head of witty and dirty talk. The story being told from his POV, promises to be even more fun.
I give it 4,5/5 stars.
This novel makes me want to be a boy! Sounds weird, but Matt, Sean and Coop are just too hilarious. SWIM THE FLY is all about friendship, fun and boyish dares! Boys will love it, but girls even more ;)
2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted December 18, 2012
Posted January 17, 2012
Posted December 11, 2011
Posted August 2, 2014
I love the book and enjoy it, I think that it is funny and the details is great in the book, just enough for boys to imagine the rest that it don't describe in the bookWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted July 18, 2014
Posted March 2, 2012
Posted December 9, 2011
I am a very avid reader and i have to say, it is one of the very best books i have ever read. Although it is really good, i have to recommend it for BOYS 13/14 and up. There is also a sequel called Beat the Band, also recommended for the same group.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted June 22, 2011
What started out as a brief review of a book I thought was too mature for my 9 year old (avid reader), turned into a hilarious trip into the mind of a 15 year old boy. My son will be forced to wait to read, but we'll keep it on the shelf.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted March 1, 2011
The book was a swim the fly, this book is written by Don Calame. This book was published on 4/13/2010. This book is in the genre of young adult. This book is intended for teenagers and young adults I think it is mainly guys. The general story line of this book is about three young teenagers that set a goal to see a real live naked girl before the summer is over.
This book was a very good book I really liked it. When I found it I did not know how it was going to be, once I started reading this book I could not put it down. I had to finish it once I had started it. I would definitely recommend it. I think that this book is more of a guys book and I think that any guy that reads this book they should read this book.
The characters do grow throughout the story. All three of the boys become more social and more important in the story. The characters are also very likeable they act like young teenagers. The three teenagers are very funny. I think that the authors attitudes toward the characters are very good he does not try to put down the characters.
I would recommend this book to anyone that is looking to laugh and laugh. This book is very funny. This book is not at all what I expected I was kind of expecting it to be bad but it was hilarious. This was a very good book I could not put it down and I wanted to read it and then when I finished I wanted to read it again.
Posted July 11, 2010
When i got this for Easter i COULD NOT STOP READING IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
ITS THE BEST BOOK EVER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I wish he made a seaqual or a movie.
ALL I HAVE TO SAY IS READ IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Posted September 24, 2009
I Also Recommend:
Oh, my! Don Calame is one of the most humorous writers to walk this universe. Swim the Fly knocked me out. I was so immersed in Calame's witty prose, I just found myself turning the pages rapidly & it still didn't seem fast enough.
Swim the Fly is a must read for both males & females. Matt & his lovable cohorts get themselves into so many priceless scenarios you will be rolling so much your sides will ache. You will shake your head @ their hijinks, nod as their shenanigans ebb & flow & you find yourself relating to their comical teenage adventures.
Calame is an artisan when it comes to creating characters. Each individual had an unrivaled trait & a voice that was intrinsic to each personality. Don't let me get started on Matt's grandfather ~ he alone delivered uproarious scenes that made my sides throb.
Swim the Fly is a phenomenal novel. I was so engaged w/ the adventures of the Calame's sidesplitting players, I was reluctant to reach the ending. It. Was. That. Hilarious.
I can't wait to get my hands on the next whimsical treat Calame delivers!
Run, don't walk , to grab a copy of Swim the Fly!
Posted June 6, 2009
This story should capture and hold the interest of an audience that has proved difficult to get to read. It is funny and realistic to the point where every young boy can relate to the characters and how they spend their summer.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted November 13, 2011
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Posted April 19, 2012
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Posted May 25, 2009
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Posted November 16, 2011
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Posted January 19, 2012
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