What Drives Us? Review of D.J. Swykert’s The Pool Boy’s Beatitude



If you spent six years of your life in college in the quest to obtain an education only to find out that what you have been studying leads to the conclusion that nothing is permanent or knowable or that there is no end nor beginning, that all of what makes up your life is relative, would you be disillusioned? What would you do? Keep on seeking? Quit? This is the story of Jack Joseph, a budding scientist fresh out of school with a Master’s Degree in particle physics. The Theory of Everything has let Jack down. He finds that you can learn as much from the bottom of a pool as from a a blackboard full of equations so he becomes a pool boy, cleaning pools in Detroit. Demons from his past–alcohol and drugs–plague him, destroy his marriage, and threaten to send him to the bottom of inhumanity, and prison. In the past there have been brief temporary stops, periods of abstaining from alcohol. These moments don’t last and now Jack is out of control. His wife, Elle has thrown him out, he has nowhere to stay,he has not been sober in more than a week, and he’s messing around with the wives of other men. Although he says he’s not, he is a gigolo. He’s Rosemary gigolo. He is a kept man who understands instinctively that there’s more to life than being controlled by his urge to drink, party, and fuck. During all this, he meets Sarah who will show him, give him a reason to stop spinning out of control,  and make his way back to a life of science. It is her love that sustains him through more dark moments. This is Jack’s story and it might be yours.

D.J. Swykert‘s writing is compelling, imaginative, and real. The language, honest and raw, pulls no punches. Last night my husband and I were watching previews at movie theater while waiting for the movie, Star Wars to begin. At the end of one of the previews, the rating included a warning of some rude humor. That describes D.J. Swykert’s writing. The story is entertaining but if you dislike profanity and in-your-face talk about sex, drinking, and relationships, this is not the book for you. Still, I challenge you to read The Pool Boy’s Beatitude. It is a well-written, well-edited, nearly error free rationale for why it is a crime not to live life though in Jack’s universe the question becomes does it mean living life responsibly as if others mattered?

The science of quantum mechanics, the universe, The Theory of Everything, particle physics is related in such a way to make the study of physics interesting and solely a province of geeks and nerds. Physics meats metaphysics. Swykert shows that both are the study of the universe (the 4 w’s and the h (how)), the self (we are all made up atoms) and love (like time, a construct like most of what is in physics). The Pool Boy’s Beatitude competes on the level of the hit tv series, The Big Bang Theory and Carl Sagan’s theory of humans with lizard brains. It is that good. Equally good and disconcertingly real is Swykert’s delving into the world of petty crime, the world spent inside courtrooms and county jails where most believes they are innocent, find “Jesus” and where crime like hiding and feeding addictions is more work than a 40-60 hour job could ever be. This choice, to work this hard at something that will likely land you in jail, probably prison, and possibly end in with an untimely death answers Jack’s question whether addiction is choice of free will or the result of biology. It is choice as it violates the natural law that bodies at rest tend to remain at rest.

Blend D.J. Swykert and Michael Connelly into one author and the two sides of law and disorder meld into one coin. Read this book. You’ll be entertained while you learn about the universe, science, and yourself, but be forewarned. Like when you go grocery shopping, eat first. Besides being an alcoholic, Jack is a gourmet cook; his Cajun-inspired creations (which led me to think at first, we’re in New Orleans, not Detroit) are mouth-watering.

Copy provided by author in exchange for a honest review.