We bring you our first Curated Reading List, from a new series where writers share the books that have inspired the themes and subjects in their own work. In this edition, Ronnie Scott, author of The Adversary, shares eight novels that have impacted his understanding of what it means to exist as a queer person, within a queer community, today.
Readers of fiction have no shortage of queer titles to choose from, and because they blip in and out of different chunks of literary history, their queerness is almost never expressed in the same way twice. This curated list of 8 titles is totally personal and would probably change by the day, but this provisional list of queer novels impacted me a lot, whether that was in terms of their style, story, attitude or tone.
The Talented Mr Ripley by Patricia Highsmith
The original, charming, upsetting sociopath, written by the original, charming, upsetting sociopath, with all kinds of psychological politics smuggled in under the luxury. A fun book about grubby things.
Look Who's Morphing by Tom Cho
A new favourite, this book – short Australian fiction that pulls in monstrous bodies, techno anxiety, retro exuberance, abstract thought, and mixes them up in a big, funny ball that keeps you on your toes.
Cherry Beach by Laura McPhee Browne
Another new favourite – this Australian debut is set in Toronto and follows sexuality as it struggles awake against the backdrop of a friendship; it's careful, measured writing about the spaces between us and how our lives develop in those gaps, alone.
Orlando by Virginia Woolf
This is much more fun than people think it will be, and even though it has a speculative conceit, there is no better book about the experience of living in time. A total masterwork.
Down the Hume by Peter Polites
Tough and tender, this Australian novel about a young man in trouble is electrically fun and noir-ish but also critical, vulnerable, vicious, and bruisy - what more could you want?
Tell Me How Long the Train's Been Gone by James Baldwin
If you've read any other Baldwin you should try this one out. It's slower, sadder and manages to discuss a large and startling array of professional, personal, and bisexual problems. It's a yearning, interesting book.
The Whole Story and Other Stories by Ali Smith
This short story collection is vivid and queer, and its attitude's right there in the title; the pieces always feel like they're written by an intimate, unifying hand, but none of them ever feel like they're weighed down by more than their moment in time.
Zami: A New Spelling of My Name by Audre Lorde
Okay, one non-novel (a "biomythography") that feels like a new kind of fiction, packed with perceptiveness, seriousness, hilarity and depth of thought.
Ronnie Scott’s debut novel is The Adversary – you can read an extract here.
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