Barrington natives team up to write novel


Barrington native Jay Primiano was 19 years old when he met John Rocco.

Jay had been building a small cabin for his quahogging boat when he noticed a young boy peeking through some nearby hedges.

“This little kid said ‘Can I help?’” Mr. Primiano recalled. “I gave him the most difficult job I could find and sure enough he did it and then was looking for more work.”

Eventually Jay asked John if he wanted a job as a picker when he went out quahogging on the bay. John accepted and a relationship was born.

Eventually the two Barrington boys grew up and moved away from town — Jay became a soccer coach at URI and also serves as director of the Charlestown Recreation Department while John is an accomplished book illustrator.

But the two stayed in touch and in 2004 John approached Jay with an idea: Let’s write a book.

Jay loved the idea and the two went to work building a story line and developing characters, and on Saturday Jay Primiano will stop by Barrington Books to sign copies of the new novel titled “Swim That Rock.” He’ll be at the store at 11 a.m.

The story is set in the East Bay, across the waters of the Barrington River and Hundred Acre Cove and farther south, and along Water Street in Warren.

Jay said he and John pulled details for the book from their own life experiences. Jay said the character called Gene was based on a neighbor who owned a lobster boat and who hired Jay when he was just 11 years old.

“I worked for him for five summers. We would work on the west side of Jamestown. We worked all the way to Beavertail — 12 hour days,” Jay recalled. “It’d be late afternoon and we’d be finished, so he’d give me a beer. Just one beer. Then he let me sleep all the way home. He would say ‘If you’re going to do an adult’s work, you get an adult’s beverage. But don’t ask for two.”

Swim That Rock is a story about a 14-year-old boy who works on a quahogging boat to save his family’s diner, and it has already received rave reviews.

Rick Riordan, author of the New York Times best-selling Percy Jackson series, offered this: “Swim That Rock is a rare catch: a brilliantly crafted, heartwarming story of friendship and family; also a page-turner full of storms, mystery, danger, mobsters and even the odd pirate. Like the New England ‘quahoggers’ in their novel, John Rocco and Jay Primiano know how to bring the nets in full. Humor, adventure, wonderful characters, stakes that matter, and a setting so lovingly described you can taste the salt in the air — Swim That Rock is a savory feast.”

John Rocco is an award-winning illustrator who created the covers for Mr. Riordan’s Percy Jackson books.

• What: Book signing event for Swim That Rock

• When: Saturday, April 26 at 11 a.m.

• Where: Barrington Books

• Who: Co-author Jay Primiano will talk about the book and sign copies


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Jim McGaw

A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.