Jackets and blurbs ...
The original 1990 edition ...
Reading Group Guide ...

Some notes from the author ...

Reviews ...
A review of the original 1990 edition, from the Literary Review UK

Read an extract: Chapter Five: Nighttime in Kilbrack ...
Read a joke: of lesbians and avocados ...

Amazons ... should you choose to purchase.

Jamie O’Neill home
At Swim, Two Boys
Short Stories

Kilbrack home ...
Of lesbians and avocados

ex Chapter Twelve

Two faded members of the old Irish gentry are talking – Valentine Brack and his third cousin, Charity Cuthbert, whose name he pretends to ... disremember.

Valentine Brack glanced over at his third cousin. He had forgotten it was canasta night. No matter, he would have pretended to forget anyway. But he was annoyed she had arrived so early. He would have sent her packing to return at eight, but the silly woman had scraped her car against the portico steps. Her car – sure it was his own motor. He had leant it to her years back when he realized he’d have no further use for it. She had punctured one of the tyres. He had immediately set Jim O’Toole to repair the damage, but in the meantime he’d felt constrained to offer her dinner. And the silly woman, to his immense surprise, had accepted. It had never occurred to him that anyone would volunteer for Bridie O’Toole’s cooking. But here she was at his table now.

And Valentine Brack had looked forward to a dinner on his own, a silent ponderance over the day’s events. God knows, they deserved, even compelled, it.

It, however, was not to be.

He glanced at his third cousin, and her fingers wringing her napkin. She was crying. ‘Why, Verity,’ he said. ‘You are crying.’

‘I didn’t mean to cry, Valentine.’

‘Nonsense, Hope. The eyes need a good rinsing every now and then. I beg you, though, not to agonize quite so distractedly over the bats. It is not their extermination I have in mind, only their pacification.’

‘It’s Livia,’ said Mrs Cuthbert, dabbing at her eyes with her napkin. ‘I fear she’s not interested in men.’

‘Perhaps,’ he mused, ‘she should consider zoology as a career. Anthropology, it seems to me, is a very narrow discipline, unrewarding both materially and spiritually. However, there is a great call in these parts for specialists in the ways of bats. She might be off on the pig’s back, as the country folk hereabouts would have it.’

Mrs Cuthbert shook her head into her napkin. ‘I think she might be an avocado,’ she said.

‘An avocado?’ repeated Valentine Brack. It quite shocked him out of his preoccupation. ‘Avocado?’

‘You know,’ said Mrs Cuthbert. ‘Avocados. Women who prefer, you know. . . . ‘

‘Don’t be ridiculous, Patience. You mean lesbians.’

‘Do I?’

‘Lesbians: women of a homophilic nature.’

‘Well, I don’t know. I get them confused. Lesbians and avocados: they both seemed to arrive in Ireland at the same time.’