Gay fiction

The Cabin at the End of the World by Paul Tremblay

cabinThis wasn’t really what I expected. One of those horror books which starts with a golden scene, a lovely little girl collecting grasshoppers in front of the cabin where her family have gone on holiday. A man arrives, you start to hear the sinister music soundtrack in your head that the characters never seem to hear and you know it is to turn to custard.

I loved the men in this story, I loved reading a story where the gay men were just ordinary nice men, where the family was always referred to as a family and not stereotyped or cookie cutter. They were so nicely written, I loved their moments of affection in the midst of terrible troubles. I loved their relationship with their daughter.

This is a nicely written story, one which gave me lots to think about and it preyed on my mind a lot while I was reading it, I was rushing to get back to it. I really enjoyed the structure, the way that the author gradually revealed the nature of the interlopers. It made me think about the way that you could construe an apocalypse and use the media to help you create a myth. It made me think about the nature of online groups, how those people who feel isolated can find others to share their weirdnesses, for both good and evil. How sometimes even the nicest people can become caught up in plots which turn their heads.

I did not love the rushed explanation at the end of the book, I needed more of a drawn out moment of revelation. Even thought it was ultimately a satisfying ending, it could have been better handled. All in all this is great.

What If It’s Us by Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera

WhatYou can see the Netflix series playing out in your mind as you read this rather lovely book.

Arthur is working for his mum in her law office in New York, the family have moved there for the summer and Arthur has an internship doing the filing. He has cool gossipy workmates who are incredibly entertaining, they look out for him and make the job interesting and fun.

Ben is stuck in summer school, not his ideal way to spend the summer. He has broken up with his boyfriend, it is hard, he is a bit broken. Worse the ex is also attending summer school so he has to see him all the time and that is sad and hard.

Arthur meets Ben at the Post Office in the midst of a flash mob, it is the cutest thing. Love at first sight but then they spend the next while trying to find each other. They don’t have many clues, but this is love, they need to find each other. So investigations take place, they get everyone involved in the search and of course, when all seems lost they find each other. Ohhhh my poor wee heart just went all gooey! Now we have them working through all the stuff of the past, thinking about the future and dealing with life as it plays out for them. This is the summer of dreams but sometimes it is the summer of angst. There are heaps of lovely references to gay culture, musicals, coffee shops that are amazing – though I’ve had plenty of coffee in New York and I’m skeptical about these – this is a New York story with a thoroughly New York state of mind.

I feel a bit bad for the 3 stars, it is really a firm 3.5. I felt that it was just a bit wordy. It took a tiny bit too long for things to happen and while the chat in the book is so brilliant and witty and on point, there is just too much of it. The cuteness is just so lovely, the banter excellent, the families of the boys are so nice, so accepting of their interesting and complicated gay kids. I loved it when the two families had dinner together. Seriously, this is so nice! Like a romantic froth of powder blue tulle! Like puppies and kittens. Like my dog on Insta! It just needed a bit of substance.

I think this will be a huge hit. And I’m so pleased that books like this are becoming mainstream. Here are the authors talking about it.

I Had Such Friends by Meg Gatland-Veness

friendsThis one is right up there for me. It is the kind of voice I love and I’d personally call this a cross-over novel, one that works for adults and YA. It is set in a small Australian town where people play footy, surf and the culture of bloke is at it’s peak. It is tough to stand out in this place. You fit or you don’t. If you don’t you’ll be picked on and persecuted and made to pay. Hamish is a poor, skinny kid who has nothing cool about him. The story takes place over Hamish’s last year of high school. His only friend, Martin, whom he really doesn’t like but you’ve got to talk to someone, is even more hideously uncool. Hamish has been stuck with him by default even though he can’t stand him.

At the start we are told that Charlie one of the schools most popular guys has been killed in a car crash which also involved the utterly gorgeous Annie, the school sweetheart, most beautiful creature who ever walked the earth. Annie has survived and emerged sad and lonely. Hamish has worshiped her from afar but always known that he has no chance with her. She and Charlie are the school elite, but now Charlie is dead and everything is different. Change is on the way, one day Peter the school bad kid, gives Hamish a ride home from school and everything starts to happen. Peter and Hamish become the kind of friends who don’t talk about anything but spend time together and gradually gradually they begin to build a relationship. At the same time Hamish and Annie are becoming girlfriend and boyfriend and Hamish has gone from untouchable to being in demand. But all is not what it seems.

This book is about relationships, attitudes, sexual tension and racism. You have so much in here! I loved Peter, I loved him so much more than Hamish and what happens to him is horrific. I loved so much about this book but I admit that it isn’t perfect. There are some problems with the writing in places. And I really had a problem with Annie, she seems to be almost unnecessary to the story other than a bit player. I loved the relationship with Hamish and his parents and could totally see that playing out. I thought the sex was really well written too. There are problems but overall I thoroughly loved the story and the way that the scenes felt so realistic. I loved Hamish struggling to keep up with Peter at the beach with the way he pondered lying to his parents.

I’d love to see this book in lots of small town libraries, it is shocking and I think quite realistic in the way the casual homophobia is visited upon teenagers. It is certainly not a hopeful book. The actions of the teenagers and their rage against Peter and Hamish is horrific to read. It makes you understand why country Australians race to the big cities to reinvent themselves as gay people. I know this happens in every country! I read this at the time that I watched Hannah Gadsby and her Nannette show and possibly that is why is resonated so strongly with me.

I’m going to be buying and recommending this book. Possibly with a tighter review than this, as I’ve got a bit statementy here!

If you are a fan of Jasper Jones and books by Scot Gardner then this book is going to work for you.

Thanks to Netgalley for access to this book.