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  • Location: NSW, Brisbane

Boy Swallows Universe

Boy Swallows Universe

Why a Booktrail?

1983: A coming of age story in a world of pain

  • ISBN: 978-0008319250
  • Genre: Fiction

What you need to know before your trail

Brisbane, 1983: A lost father, a mute brother, a mum in jail, a heroin dealer for a stepfather and a notorious criminal 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 drug dealer.

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

A story of brotherhood, true love and the most unlikely of friendships

Travel Guide

Explore 1980s Brisbane and the real life Slim Halliday,

The characters of Boy Swallows Universe are all based on real life people author Trent Dalton knew during his early childhood.

Eli Bell – a friend of the real-life Slim Halliday who escaped from Boggo Road jail twice in the 1940s. He was eventually convicted of the 1952 murder of a young Gold Coast taxi driver Athol McCowan.

Eli’s heroin-dealer stepfather, Lyle – inspired by the man Dalton’s mother loved in real life.

The landscape of the novel is one in Brisbane’s poorer neighbours, as it was in the 1980s. The real landscape is the poverty, violence and drug-addled existence that poor Eli has to endure during his young life. Eli ‘s life goes down a path you would never want to take yourself. As you read, remember that much of this is true. Much of the novel is the story of the author himself.

Advice from Slim in the book:

”’Never forget, you two, you are free,’ he says. ‘These are your sunshine hours and you can make them last forever if you see all the details.’
I nod loyally.
‘Do your time, hey Slim?’ I say.
He nods proudly.
‘Before it does you,’ he says.
That’s Slim’s favourite nugget of porridge wisdom.
’Do your time before it does you.’


BookTrail Boarding Pass: Boy Swallows Universe

Destination: Brisbane  Author/guide: Trent Dalton  Departure Time: 1983

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