Scribe, $24.99 pb, 150 pp
At first glance, neither Marlo nor My Heart Is a Little Wild Thing seemed particularly appealing. Both focus on queer men pining for love in a homophobic world. Both appeared to recycle what Jay Carmichael (Marlo’s author) calls ‘the tradition of tragedy in queer literature’. Digging deeper, we find that the novels offer nuanced and even uplifting perspectives on gay male experience over the decades. There are moments of adversity, but it’s the resilience and emotional strength of the protagonists – their ability to find pleasure in even dire situations – that make both books so compelling.
‘Marlo’ is the name of the rural hamlet that young Christopher has just departed. He arrives in Melbourne during the 1950s, having escaped the homophobia and gender stereotyping of his bucolic upbringing, only to confront prejudice everywhere in his new surrounds.