Trent Dalton: Why I Wrote ‘Boy Swallows Universe’

About three summers ago on a blazing hot Boxing Day in South-east Queensland I was standing at the back of a small blue Holden Barina with my mum. The boot hatchback door was up and I was helping my mum load a bunch of Christmas gifts and cooking equipment into her car. We’d all just enjoyed a good family catch-up in a shared Bribie Island holiday unit, one of those nice peaceful Christmases where nobody argues about who was supposed to make the coleslaw, and my mum was distracted for a moment by my daughter – she must have been about seven then – doing one of her impromptu interpretive dances through an avenue of coastal paperbark trees. I followed her eyes and was, naturally, also quickly ensnared in this vision… my girl’s hair blowing in the wind, her bare feet making ballet leaps between those trees, a stick in her hand acting as a wand…

Then out of nowhere and for no apparent reason – not moving her eyes for a second away from my daughter –  Mum said something beautiful. ‘I wouldn’t change any of it,’ Mum said. It sounds cheesy, I know, but that’s what she said. ‘I wouldn’t change any of it. If I had to go through it all again to get to this, I would do it. I wouldn’t change any of it.’

Trent Dalton

Trent Dalton , journalist writer with The Australian newspaper and Weekend Magazine , Brisbane Bureau, in the office , Brisbane.

I’m a journalist who has written thousands of words about the most harrowing stories about Australian life in the suburbs… tragedy, violence, trauma, upheaval, betrayal, death, destruction, families, abandonment, drugs, crime, hope and healing, no hope, no healing … and I’m often reminded by my gut that kicks from the inside sometimes how my own mother’s life story remains the most harrowing story I’ve ever had the strange and often unsettling honour of being a significant part of.

She’s the one. ‘Who’s the most interesting person you’ve ever spoken to?’ people ask. Nah, not the Dalai Lama, nah, not John Howard or Bob Hawke or Priscilla flipping Presley or Heath Ledger or Matt Damon. Nah, it’s my Mum, by a damn sight.  You’ll know why, when you read the book.

Though to be honest, the book doesn’t say a tenth of what’s she’s been through and, in turn, my admiration for her, for coming out the other side of those things, for getting to the point one day three summers ago where she’s looking at her granddaughter dancing and she comes to the realisation that it was all heading somewhere – all the pain, all the social suffering, all the madness, all the longing, all the loss, all those bad choices and all those good choices – they were all leading to a girl she loves more than life itself dancing between some swaying trees.

So that’s where the book started, by that boot of mum’s Holden Barina. It took a year to write between the hours of 8pm and 10pm after work, and it took my whole life to write. The research was really remembrance. Remembering all those years when the world around my small family crumbled.  When people we loved were being taken away.  When things we thought true were being turned false.  Heads were being slammed into fibro walls.  Dangerous people were knocking on doors at daytime.  And when that world of ours crumbled – the world of prisons and small-time suburban crime – and my brothers and I went to live with my father who I never knew, that world we knew was replaced with a new world of a Brisbane Housing Commission cluster swirling with a hundred social issues – alcoholism, unemployment, domestic violence, generational social curses – all of which I would later write about as a journalist.

All of me is in here. Everything I’ve ever seen. Everything I’ve ever done. Every girl I ever kissed on a wagged school day, every punch I ever threw, every tooth I ever lost in a Housing Commission street scrap and every flawed, conflicted, sometimes even dangerous Queenslander I’ve ever come across, as the son of two of the most incredible and beautiful and sometimes troubled parents a kid could ever be born to.

The key characters all draw on the people I love most in the world. The most beautiful and complex people I’ve ever known, and I never even had to walk out the door of my house to find them. I just wanted to give the world a story. To turn all these crazy and sad and tragic and beautiful things I’ve seen into a crazy, sad, tragic and beautiful story.

Love, above all else, is threaded through this novel. I wanted to write about how it is possible to love someone who has killed. How it is possible to love someone who has hurt you deeply. How love is the closest thing we have to the truly profound. The kid in the book is feeling love like he’s feeling the edge of the universe, and it’s so big and beyond him he can only see it in colours and explosions in the cosmos. He can explain those things he sees in his mind – even the things he might hear in his head – with about as much clarity as anyone can truly give the mysteries of true love. He can only feel these things.

Ultimately, it’s a love story.

All I think I’ve done as a journalist over 17 years, if I’m being really honest with myself, is process all the baggage of my life through the stories of thousands of Australians who tell me their deepest darkest secrets in the sacred spaces of their living rooms, and I take these secrets and turn them as respectfully as possible into magazine stories, and these stories help me learn and know and sometimes even heal …  Boy Swallow Universe is me taking all my own secrets this time and turning them as respectfully as possible into a novel.

This book is for the never believers and the believers and the dreamers.  This book is for anyone around the world who has been 13 years old. This book is for a generation of Australians who were promised by their parents they would be told all the answers as soon as they were old enough. Well, now you’re old enough.

Here are my answers:

  1. Every lost soul can be found again. Fates can be changed. Bad can become good.
  2. True love conquers all.
  3. There is a fine line between magic and madness and all should be encouraged in moderation.
  4. Australian suburbia is a dark and brutal place.
  5. Australian suburbia is a beautiful and magical place.
  6. Home is always the first and final poem.

Boy Swallows Universe Sampler

Boy Swallows Universe by Trent Dalton

An utterly wonderful novel of love, crime, magic, fate and coming of age, set in Brisbane’s violent working class suburban fringe – from one of Australia’s most exciting new writers.

Brisbane, 1983: A lost father, a mute brother, a mum in jail, a heroin dealer for a stepfather and a notorious crim for a babysitter. It’s not as if Eli’s life isn’t complicated enough already. He’s just trying to follow his heart, learning what it takes to be a good man, but life just keeps throwing obstacles in the way – not least of which is Tytus Broz, legendary Brisbane drug dealer.

But Eli’s life is about to get a whole lot more serious. He’s about to fall in love. And, oh yeah, he has to break into Boggo Road Gaol on Christmas Day, to save his mum.

A story of brotherhood, true love and the most unlikely of friendships, Boy Swallows Universe will be the most heartbreaking, joyous and exhilarating novel you will read all year.

‘Trent Dalton is the most extraordinary writer – a rare talent. A major new voice on the Australian literary scene has arrived.’ Nikki Gemmell

‘An astonishing achievement. Dalton is a breath of fresh air – raw, honest, funny, moving, he has created a novel of the most surprising and addictive nature. Unputdownable.’ David Wenham

‘I couldn’t stop reading from the moment I started, and I still can barely speak for the beauty of it. Trent Dalton has done something very special here, writing with grace, from his own broken heart.’ Caroline Overington

‘Enthralling – a moving account of sibling solidarity and the dogged pursuit of love.’ Geoffrey Robertson QC

‘Stunning. My favourite novel for decades. Left me devastated but looking to the heavens.’ Tim Rogers

Posted on June 26, 2018 by

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"Trent Dalton: Why I Wrote ‘Boy Swallows Universe’"74 thoughts on
  • Kecia Sandford-Clisby says:

    I am so glad that you wrote this book! But I didn’t know it was partly based on your own family. That must be why the characters ring true and captured my heart and mind. An absolutely staggering book that takes the reader on an emotional whirlwind and I enjoyed every minute!

    • Andrea says:

      Hi Kecia,

      So glad to hear you enjoyed Boy Swallows Universe. Some staff in the HCP office didn’t know it was based on truth until after they’d read – like you – it really does add to the experience doesn’t it?

  • Kerry Gamble says:

    Wow. Started reading your book this afternoon ( on holiday). I know I’m going to struggle to put it down.

  • This is a story with soul. That illusive quality all writers want to have imbedded in their work. It comes from suffering and honesty. What a masterpiece! I loved it.
    Thank you.

  • Judi says:

    Will read your book but was most impressed with your thoughts on QandA about the grapes of wrath. I had a similar reaction 40 years ago and it’s still with me.

  • christine says:

    Hi Trent,
    Loved, loved, loved this book. It’s sad,beautiful and inspiring. You are a brilliant writer and I look forward to more of your stories. Thank you Cheers Christine

  • Jenny Carleton says:

    The book overwhelmed me. And I now feel even more overwhelmed reading of Trent’s experience. This man’s work, as both a writer and journalist, is a gift to us all. Thank You.

  • gina louis says:

    I am going to the library today to get this book, Very impressed with Trent on Q&A I hope that at 83 I can still be enthralled! I think I might be!

  • Barrie East says:

    Trent, I only caught the last couple of minutes of your interview on 2GB this morning, Monday 27/8/18 3.55am. It was inspiring, just went to my computer and found out more, including your new book, Boy swallows universe.

    Would it be possible please, to order 3 copies of your book and have each one autographed for my son, Jamie, my daughter Kylie and myself. Please let me know how if acceptable to you, as you are inspiring. Very best wishes, Barrie East (m) 0412345941.

  • Keith stafford says:

    Thanks for writing boy swallows universe Trent. The term, ‘ keep it real ‘ aptly describes the book and the way you wrote it. You kept it real….real enough for this reader anyway. To say it was an enjoyable read would be a gross understatement.

  • Peter Haag says:

    You wrote a mirror.

  • FLM says:

    This is without question one of the best books I have read. To know that it is your life reworked as a novel that never approaches self-pity or self-indulgence is extraordinary. The voice, the colour, the candour, the love, the pace and the play with time is the best I’ve read. I loved every saturated second of it. Thank you for sharing your words and wisdom.

  • Paula Whittingham says:

    To fully appreciate this book, everyone should read ‘Why I wrote ………… As I had not read this article prior to reading the book, I found it quite daunting to read however, as I became more and more intrigued by the story. I find it absolutely amazing that this, in reality, is ‘almost’ a true to life story and find myself wondering how Trent could have possibly lived out his life to become such a gifted journalist/author! Truly an amazing story!

  • Di Freidman says:

    Unforgettable and a wonderful insight into family, love, loyalty,resilience and a whole lot more. I spent nearlyforty years working in mental health and addictions. I know the Brisbane you write about so perfectly, your parents must be so proud of you and your achievements. It’s the flaws who make us who we are.

  • “Twin Peaks in the sunlit suburbs of Brisbane. Mix of realism with mystical, strange. Crime, compassion and eccentricity. That’s Dalton’s ‘Boy Swallows Universe’.”
    My first thoughts on putting down this amazing story that keeps giving.
    Every time it reaches a peak, where the story could easily taper off or conclude, it opens something fresh and equally riveting, carrying the reader, on bated breath, to the final sentence.
    Could I ever write anything like Boy Swallows Universe? Nah, nah, nah, nah.

  • Margaret Braben says:

    I really loved this book, couldn’t put it down. I chose it because you are such a great author and thankyou for your writing in the Australian , one always learns something not experienced beforehand.

  • Mick Barton says:

    It’s a rare book gets me misty-eyed. Christopher helping Eli’s escape from hospital, Eli’s jail visit to see mum but worth the price of admission alone for me has to be “She gives me one of those quick and beautiful half-smiles that she can send down a one-way corridor of devotion directly to the person she is aiming at, a tunnel of lifelong love invisible to all others …….”. Man, I knew Trent was a terrific columnist but this novel is superb.

  • Mick Barton says:

    Did I say “columnist”? Feature writer extraordinaire is more like it. Although all Weekend Magazine columnists are a must read too.

  • Kaye Eden says:

    As soon as i started reading this book & really got the understanding of what it was about i found myself on this journey of wanting to know more & i really must say it is one of the best novels i have ever read, i thoroughly loved reading it & i’m hoping there will be another one of your stories in the near future.

  • Susan Grant says:

    Bloody brilliant! Best book I’ve read in years. Well done, Trent.

  • Sally says:

    Dear Trent, I can’t tell you how much i loved your book! I’m sad that it is now finished as this is a truly exceptional story. It’s even more exceptional because it is based on truth. Looking forward to the next one. Sally

  • Janet Frewin says:

    What a fabulous book. Thank you for it all.

  • Kirsty Mclaughlin says:

    Wow, just finished “Boy Swallows Universe “ in a day as too compelling to put down.Eli’s love and hope for his parents rings so true having met many children who will endure almost anything from Mum and Dad.The positivity shining through the chaos and heartache is like a beacon. Thank you Trent for giving so much of yourself in this outstanding novel.

  • Di williams says:

    Thanks Trent for taking me back to my childhood, although on the so called ‘other side of the train tracks. Brought up in Kenmore then Jindalee, living the Brady bunch lifestyle, just like the telly shows, and braving Inala skate rink, Marooka magic mile of motors and going through Darra , which I knew as Darra cement works and the Goodna barracks, thinking as a child I,m glad I didn’t live there! But also knowing a one off confrontation with my father with certain police officers of the day, during the brown paper bag times. You have made me look on all walks of life as having their own demons and their diamonds, thank you so much

  • Bill Blacklock says:

    What a fantastic book. Loved every word of it and can’t wait for the next one.

  • Sid Sidebottom says:

    Thanks! A terrific read ~ humanity pours throug your characters as it does through life in all its glory and gory. Rarely do I find a story so compelling that I sneak extra reading time in during the day. I hope your next story is on its way during the hours of 8.00 -10.00pm 24/7. BOY SWALLOWS UNIVERSE will indeed be a classic of Australian literature because it deserves to be.

  • John Roggenkamp says:

    To Trent Dalton

  • Carey says:

    Just finished the book. What an experience it was. As someone for whom the 80’s was ‘their’ decade, I enjoyed all the cultural references along the way. Amazing story that had me laughing and feeling a lump in my throat all at the same time. Can’t wait for Trent’s next offering.

  • Mary Hindom says:

    HI Trent, Mum’s friend Mary here from Sunshine Coast. I would love an autographed copy of this book. Please let me know if this can be done and how and where to pay for it. I am sure it will bring back good and bad memories for me too. Can you ask Mum if she wants to look me up and phone or email me? She has been in my thoughts often. We have lost touch. It really bought a smile to my face when I read your piece about Leonie being the inspiration to start writing this story.

  • Jeanette Menzies says:

    Just the most fabulous book and one of the best I have read. Won’t be surprised if there are movie offers, but it will be hard to portray the beautiful descriptions deeply imbedded in this book. I Is ensured a place on the list of books for VCE study. Thank you Trent, wonderful and thrilling work.

  • Mary Robertson says:

    Just finished “Boy Swallows Universe” what an amazing book. I loved it – full of humanity, love, honesty and sincerity. Words fail me.

  • Roz O'Connor says:

    Just finished reading your wonderfully written masterpiece (in my opinion ). A Christmas present from my Santa Husband – who heard something about it on the radio…wow he was so right in thinking I might enjoy!
    I wanted – needed to let you know I thought the ending pages were many books all of a sudden have to “finish” knitting all the loose ends together for the purpose of ending… you however took endings to a whole new level for me.You tied up all the strings (note not loose ends) at a pace that was masterful and respectful. I’m just an ordinary person who loves to read and becomes entrenched in the stories – I just wanted you to know you succeeded and hope you keep writing with such SOUL. Maybe I need to pay a little more attention to The Weekend Mags. Thanks again for the experience.

  • Lynette Sharpe says:

    An amazing read. My copy of the book arrived this. Morning, I have read it in one day. You have given us an insight into a life that has shaped you as a person and a writer. I was intrigued to read this story because I had met you a few years ago when you did a story called ” The Reunion “. Thankyou.

  • Robyn says:

    All i can say is Boy oh boy!

  • Nanette Gardner says:

    Clearly I’m alone in my thoughts. Beautifully written but I found myself distressed by the story. Life is ugly enough without reading about it for pleasure. I don’t listen, read or watch the news if possible and the world appears to be a better place to me now. I don’t need to be confronted by the ugliness of life no matter how well written. Sorry Trent, just too much for me. Couldn’t finish it.

  • Denise McLeod says:

    I grew up in a suburb in Adelaide very similar to Darra and now live in The Gap. Your book was so relatable for me and a great story of resilience and love. It is an important story to tell as it shines a light on humanity in all it’s forms in the suburbs in such an empathetic way. It should be set as a high school text so that young Australians can see that no matter what your beginning you can write your own story. Thank you for writing this.

  • Jenni O'Shea says:

    Omg BRILLIANT!!! What a great read

  • Chrissy Porter says:

    I absolutely loved reading your book Trent. And I fell in love with your family. Please keep writing. I can’t wait for the next one.

  • jan rowe says:

    so very courageous Trent, to let us experience your life with such grace
    – I have admired your writings in The Australian and congratulate you for giving us a most engaging and fantastic read in ‘Boy Swallows Universe’

  • June Webber says:

    I am halfway through your book and LOVING it. You are so blessed to be able to use words so eloquently. Your make me visualise the scenes which are beyond my way of life. Even through the tragedy I can chuckle at your explanations. This is a brilliant piece of work. Congratulations.

  • Gaye Wotherspoon says:

    I have been a fan of your writing for a few years now, loving your interviews with an amazing diversity of people. I can’t wait to read your new book.It was great to meet you at The Perth Writers festival last weekend and I mentioned to you how we would love you to come to “Corrugated Roads” Broome’s writers festival, and you expressed a wish to come to Broome some day. The Writers festival dates are August 9th-11th, hoping your itinerary organiser will be able to slot this Broome visit in.So many characters and amazing stories to write in Broome and the Kimberley. Hope to hear from you soon. regards Gaye

  • Robin Templin says:

    Beautiful. This made me cry almost as much as this gem of a book. This one is up there with the other 4 books I revere above the rest. I saved my pinkie for Eli Bell. Perfection.

  • Patricia English says:


  • Garry Frost says:

    The Love of My Life gave me this book.. It’s the best thing she ever gave me…not counting the Four Gorgeous Mongrels…. Thank you Trent…

  • Claire Anderson says:

    Good day Trent
    Thank you for bearing your soul- this book is amazing, with many valid themes entangled together. Your characters have stayed with me since finishing it. I have told our local librarians at Albany Creek, Ashgrove and Michelton it’s a must read. I keep telling everyone to read it, so hope you get lots of sales, lol! Looking forward to your next book! Best wishes and love to you. Claire.

  • Claire says:

    Hi Trent
    Brilliant book, loved it. meant to say you made me chuckle, laugh, ponder and cry! Moving book
    Many thanks and congratulations!

  • Sherrie Littlefair says:

    I think I experienced every possible human emotion through your story telling. It was raw, honest, truthful, fearless, vulnerable, familiar, tender, loving, loyal and real. Thank you for sharing I saw and felt it all.

  • Sandy Toussaint says:

    Sublime. Daunting. Profound. Everyone. Evermore.
    Complex. Not. Life.
    Bravo Trent Dalton …

  • Vicki Ryan says:

    Just finished reading your book Boy Swallows Universe. What a page turner. My interest initially was because of Slim Halliday. He was my great Uncle and have done a lot of research about his life but there is not much know about him since he left jail. Thank you for putting across the man he man that he may really have been.

  • greg hurst says:

    Dear Mr Dalton.
    I read Mccarthy’s “The Road” in an afternoon. Your book is longer and I hadn’t finished it when my wife demanded I go to bed. Just as well. It deserves a long read.The plot is twisted, the characters interesting ,the dialogue spot on. I prefer Australian authors. Both “The Shepherd’s Hut” and “Jasper Jones” had adolescent male heroes. Is this a trend? Maybe young people, like Greta Thunberg just want the truth.

  • Britt Wilson says:

    This book has been such a wonderful read. It’s taken me on a roller coaster ride of pain, sadness, love, compassion, laughs, empathy, terror and love again. Trent Dalton, you are such a clever, insightful and brilliant writer. Your book has moved my heart More than any other in a long time. Love is the answer. Lots of love to you and don’t ever give up loving and writing!

  • Tanja Chester says:

    Trent Dalton’s story has brought back in technicolor my time spent in Wacol and a teenager..the final awful place my dad moved us to …that saw the demise and unlovely fall of each of my sisters lives ….at the same time it galvanised me to get the hell out…live my life independently as a 16 year old..get my first magic job in the Sunday sun building with the a junior stenographer and later get my chance in the newsroom over at Toowong…reading this story shows the true underbelly of Brisbane’s outer suburbs and the strange subculture of ignorance, poverty and getting by with whatever wits you have left after the heat and humidity has sapped your energy to do anything constructive with your sad life…..

  • Chris says:

    Great book, amazingly descriptive writing. Love the 80s references and I’ll always be grateful that Trent reminded me of catchit clothing 😊. I may upset people here {and I’m upset myself} but I can’t help feel that the end was somewhat of a let down and as if it was written with a different purpose in mind. It read like every Hollywood film I’ve hated where the good guy runs out of places to run and the bad guy is shot at the last second by the police after having the hero in a choker hold. IMHO it didn’t need such a climactic ending, the book was so well crafted till this point that it felt like I was reading another authors ideas. I am by no means a book a week type person so am open to criticism, but I do know film and I feel somewhere around the point Eli and Catherine went back to discover the bunker of body parts, Trent was writing a screen play and no longer for his brilliantly written debut novel.

  • Madonna Milne says:

    Amazing story, loved every minute of reading “Boy Swallows Universe”. Couldn’t put it down. Its the best.

  • Ava says:

    From the moment I picked up your book, through the moment I finished it I could not stop thinking about everything that was oh so vividly pressed onto those pages.
    Being a child of the 80s, growing up in Brisbane I could completely relate. I recall going to Sandgate as a child with dad to see his paranoid hash dealer, who lived in a run down, fibro beach shack which had all the windows boarded up. Every time he needed to sneeze, he would silence it by holding up a pillow to his face.
    Thank you so much for writing this incredible book. I didn’t want it to end, I wanted to continue reading it. And then upon reading the acknowledgments at the back and you thanking Edward Louis Severson III, I was even more blown away. Another sparkling adolescent memory…

  • Mary Kelly says:

    I was at my Texas library and found Boy Swallows Universe. Captivated from page 1, I devoured the book and have nothing but praise for the unique spell it cast. When Caitlyn tells Eli not to pick up the phone, I knew love would win in Eli’s life, and I felt joy for him and relief for me, so committed was I to his well-being. A wondrous, beautifully written book that will stay with me forever. Thank you, Trent Dalton!

  • Steve Jenkins says:

    While taking a break from social media for the past few weeks I managed to read some fiction. I was drawn to Trent Dalton’s book “ Boy Swallows Universe”. The protagonist goes to Darra SS (my old school), lives in Wacol,Darra and Bracken Ridge. Attends Nashville SHS( where I was a Deputy Principal for 6 years) and ends up writing for the Courier Mail. Although a work of fiction it is based on the author’s life. The social dislocation apparent in outer Brisbane in the 80’s is revealed in graphic detail.
    The novel is both compelling,moving and written with obvious flair .
    Tremendous first novel by any standards.

  • Julian Fior says:

    This book is fantastic! I laughed, cried and deeply reflected. Astonishing real and beautiful. Thank you

  • Susi says:

    I have almost finished this amazing book. I kind of am stalling reading on, only because I don’t want it to end. when will I ever find such an intriguing read….
    the only one thing that puzzles me a bit…. there is soo much detail… and that is brilliant. People are described in detail …. but I keep wondering the whole time, how Gus looks like. I know often what he is wearing, but what does he look like? I wonder if there is a reason for this? and I am happy to make my own image…

  • Jacky says:

    Hey Trent How did you get to know Darra so well? I lived in Oxley in the 80s and 90s. It’s been a trip down memory lane. Hope you sent a copy to Anna Palaczuck who went to Darra Catholic school.

  • leanne says:

    Dear Trent, just finished the book as an audio book for commutes in the car but it wasnt until I got to the last chapter “Acknowledgements” that I realsied the story was perhaps based on truth. Wow what an interesting story. Hope your family are all well and happy.

  • Suzanne says:

    Have always enjoyed Trent Dalton’s writing and was not disappointed with this his first novel. Great read! And made of the more interesting for me as I was able to recognise so much of my own Nashville childhood. There aren’t too many books with references to Nashville and Bracken Ridge in them. Especially as Nashville no longer exists as the area it once was has been subsumed into Sandgate. Nearly everyone I know has read this book and have delighted in Trent Dalton’s ability to bring shared memories and experiences of a particular generation from a changing, yet still parochial Brisbane alive for us. Thank you. Can’t wait for the movie.

  • Jane Purnell says:

    Trent Daltons first Novel , Trent Dalton is two time winner of the “ Walkley Award for excellence in journalism “. a four time winner of a Kennedy award for excellence in NSW journalism, and a four time winner of the national news Awards Features journalist of the year .. so the interviewer informs the listener as his introduction , from the Melbourne writers festival , this also grabs my attention ..
    So as a reader , I tend to be able to avoid all else, if on the rare occasion of finding a good read , as was the case when I left the Library with this Pink white and blue covered book stating “Your end is a dead blue wren “ I hurried home to Salisbury , read the first paragraph of this magnificent portrayal of life from the heart of Eli Bell.. as every spare moment of every day since I’ve loved turning the pages and swallowing the amazing tale…today sadly I’ve finished the book .
    An unforgettable treasure , thank you for the written word Trent … Congratulations .

  • Jade says:

    I started reading your book with the intention of reading just enough to see if it was ok for my 14 year old.. and then I couldn’t put it down. I didn’t think I had time to read between my hectic work life & home life but you’re storytelling has reignited a love of fiction that my grown up self had I guess deprioritised (hmm .. no replacement found .. that may not be a word). Anyway I don’t think it is 100% appropriate for my kid .. but I do think it’s tipped the balance enough to let him read it & hopefully he can’t put it down either. Thanks for putting your story into the universe.

  • Debbie says:

    Boy writes masterpiece.

  • Margaret Eldridge says:

    Our friend Julie is visiting our bookgroup in the US.. While I am so happy to be seeing her, I was thrilled to read your novel. Your words spoke to my heart, it is a love story written to bare down on one’s coal. Thank you for this amazing journry.

  • wwx says:

    Hi Trent, congratulations. I agreed with the critcal feedback comments offerred by the person who spoke of the Hollywood ending and screenplay-ish style, but I let that one criticism pass me by & I enjoyed the story, regardless. I felt that the book would appeal & delight without that ending, but seeing this as a film or play will also delight me. While reading, I held the knowledge that parts of this book were true/based in reality so I found that those ideas helped me to take a step back & consider the idea that the part which seemed a bit “Hollywood”, may still hold components of reality. Congratulations also for finding a way “out”: testament to the value of soul & how soul can connect us to love in the community & vice versa. I am pleased there is a book relevant to Australia and so important, particularly relevant as our world becomes faster & demands more of others, technology-as-necessity and the cost of housing create an unfortunately increasing social divide that some priviledged still are not aware of. Loved your eighties pop culture references. Thanks for a gripping read. like others I snuck the book into my day- an addictive, guilty pleasure for it was a stress to read as I grasped the pages, hunched over the book & experienced bursts of cortisol in my gut, then also worrying about my Boy Eli Bell whilst away from the book!

  • Sharron says:

    Like it’s cover, this book glows with love and life. Hard to put down and even harder to accept that I’ve read the last word. Sigh… . Top 5.

  • Fay Adrienne Rogers says:

    Hi Trent, I wrote to you. Being Brisbane born, I love the reality of reading stories set in Brisbane. Pleased to read all the feedback re your novel. Although the disadvantage of my childhood, did not come close to the personal struggle of yours. With that background, how could you not write about life’s experience in your novel and in your articles, as you do. I sent you a book with my letter, and would like to know if you received it.

  • Alan Robertson says:

    Hi Trent loved the book. Something weird happened yesterday I have to share. I’m an expat Scotsman, I’ve lived in Oxley for the last 8 years. I’m familiar with lots of places and streets in the book, but after reading the book I decided to search some of the places I wasn’t familiar with, I googled Ducie st park, its only five minutes from my house. I found out that there was a nice play park for kids so decided to take my 4 year old there. Within minutes a young boy came over and asked my boy his name then told us his names ELI!
    I’m still a little freaked out.

  • Lena Tisdall says:

    Hi Trent, I haven’t finished the book yet so I can’t give a final comment, but I’m loving it so far. The BEST thing is the part where you write about Lena Orlik and how she “worked in a timber factory in Yeerongpilly, in the south-west, cutting sheets of plywood alongside men twice her size and with half her pluck”. I assume you refer to Brims Wood Panels, which is now part of the Station Rd Creative Precinct. As my name is Lena and I’m now working in that very same plywood factory I was tickled pink with the coincidence of it. On Tuesday December 3rd our book group will be discussing your book in my studio space at the ex-plywood-factory so if you feel like dropping by about 11.30am we would welcome your insights about it. Sincerely, Lena

  • Louise O'Leary says:

    Hello Trent,
    Wow – I have just finished listening to the audio version of “Boy Swallows Universe”, read by Stig Weymss, who did an incredible job bringing your story to life.
    Your story would make a great Aussie movie – it has everything all wrapped up in an amazing love story. Looking forward to seeing it on the big screen,

  • Heather Wright says:

    Trent, I am in awe of the writing,the good portrayed in people who have such hardships. I felt in my heart this was a true story. This book should be a compulsory read for year 10 high school kids to show them that they can did themselves out of despair and love with vigour. Trent, thank you for this eye opening book on life that some of us don’t see. You are one amazing human being. Also your family. Thank you with love.

  • Erica Bolam says:

    Wow, best read . . . Loved being able to associate from experience of living in Brisbane and now Sunshine Coast and having been to to The Courier Mail offices. It made me laugh, gasp, cry . . . thank you

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