DNA Magazine - - CONTENT #227 - by Pa­trick Gale

With al­most 20 books to his name, Gale has of­ten in­cluded gay and les­bian char­ac­ters in his nov­els although they have usu­ally tended to be sec­ondary, not the main fo­cus.

Then, in 2015, he pub­lished A Place Called Win­ter, a his­tor­i­cal novel about a man ban­ished from Lon­don after a ho­mo­sex­ual scan­dal to the wilds of Canada. It proved to be one of his most suc­cess­ful books, earn­ing him a pres­ti­gious Costa Novel Prize nom­i­na­tion.

He fol­lowed up by writ­ing the TV se­ries

The Man In The Or­ange Shirt, the cen­tre­piece pro­duc­tion of the BBC’s 2017 Gay Bri­tan­nia sea­son. This dual por­trait of gay men in the 1940s and the present day was a hit with the crit­ics and view­ers alike.

His new novel, Take Noth­ing With You also fea­tures a gay lead char­ac­ter. Eus­tace, who we see largely as a teenager, is pur­su­ing his pas­sion for the cello, en­cour­aged by his bo­hemian teacher, Carla, who lives with a gay male cou­ple.

Eus­tace lives in a re­tire­ment home for the el­derly that his par­ents man­age. The strength of these com­ing-of-age sec­tions is the lim­ited point of view that young Eus­tace has of peo­ple and events be­cause he’s too young to fully un­der­stand or be­cause he’s will­fully de­ceived by the adults around him.

Some sec­tions of the novel are set in the present-day with Eus­tace, now 50, en­livened by a new long-dis­tance love af­fair with a sol­dier. A health cri­sis proves not to be what the reader ex­pects: it’s re­vealed in the first few pages that he is HIV-pos­i­tive but that’s not the is­sue. Rather, Eus­tace has thy­roid cancer. At one point he is obliged to take a ra­dioac­tive io­dine pill and spend 24 hours in a lead-lined iso­la­tion room. When he’s free to leave, he’s in­structed to “take noth­ing with you”.

But the real heart of the novel is Eus­tace’s pas­sion for the cello, his des­tiny as a mu­si­cian, and how this plays out. The de­tails of cello play­ing is ex­tremely im­pres­sive, based closely on Gale’s own ex­pe­ri­ences.

This com­ing-of-age novel is a won­der­ful evo­ca­tion of youth and its mysteries, en­livened with some mem­o­rable char­ac­ters, in­clud­ing a few com­pli­cated mon­sters. ONE HUN­DRED YEARS OF DIRT by Rick Morton Morton is a jour­nal­ist and this mem­oir of his up­bring­ing on an im­mense farm­ing sta­tion in the Aus­tralian out­back is im­me­di­ately at­ten­tion­grab­bing and at­mo­spheric but may also be star­tling to city-dwellers as the hard­ships of this ex­is­tence are re­vealed.

It’s not im­me­di­ately ap­par­ent that there is any­thing re­motely gay-themed about

One Hun­dred Years Of Dirt – though praise from Chris­tos Tsi­olkas on the cover may be con­strued as a hint.

Rick’s fam­ily owned five cat­tle sta­tions that were col­lec­tively the size of Bel­gium: about 30,000 sq kms. But life in the out­back is un­for­giv­ing and can some­times prove fa­tal. A fam­ily trav­el­ling by car break down on Christ­mas Eve in an iso­lated spot and even­tu­ally suc­cumb to the 50-C heat. Their bod­ies are found by Morton’s grand­fa­ther. A great wind sweeps sand in­side a farm­house, cak­ing a baby in her cra­dle. Rick’s brother is con­sumed by a fire­ball, due to a care­less farm­yard ac­ci­dent.

The book opens with the at­ten­tion-grab­bing line that Rick’s sis­ter Lau­ryn has taken up hunt­ing wild pigs. It will be star­tling to ur­ban read­ers, but rather hum­drum to coun­try folk. Hunt­ing in ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties is com­mon­place and, yes, women turn their hand to it.

But what is also fas­ci­nat­ing about this mem­oir is that Rick is gay, so this up­bring­ing was es­pe­cially chal­leng­ing. This is one of the most evoca­tive and dis­tinc­tive Aus­tralian books of the year.

Seek it out! MIKE ARLEN’S GUYS

In the age of dig­i­tal pho­tog­ra­phy in which ev­ery image we see is heav­ily re­touched, it’s dif­fi­cult to know just how much an image truly rep­re­sents the per­son in it. So there’s some­thing de­li­ciously re­fresh­ing about the pho­tog­ra­phy of Mike Arlen, pub­lished in his se­ries of soft-cover mag­a­zines. By to­day’s stan­dards, these are “old school” and are all the bet­ter for it.

Arlen’s guys are sexy in a “reg­u­lar guy next door” way. There are sol­diers, plumbers, leather boys, guys in kilts, men soap­ing-up in show­ers, men to­gether. Ex­pect plenty of huge, hard cocks – this is Arlen’s spe­cialty. His sig­na­ture poses in­clude men with their legs wide apart, the cam­era shoot­ing up at their rag­ing hard-ons and hairy butt holes, and the re­verse, which sees the mod­els on all fours, butt to­wards the cam­era and hard-on pushed down to­wards the cam­era.

These im­ages are raw and real – you can see the sweat and the lube glis­ten­ing on flesh. You won’t find these on­line; they’re only avail­able in print, re­viv­ing the il­licit thrill of re­ceiv­ing a dirty mag­a­zine in the mail! For the con­tact de­tails, see Mike’s ad on page 55 of this is­sue.

Mikes Arlen’s Guys Vol­ume 12 is out now!

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