Posted 20 hours ago

The Whale Tattoo

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By night it makes him piss the bed, by day it is there yipping from the bank, filling his head with rubbish, warning him to give Fysh up.

The casual queerness was nice but wasn’t a fan of the casual homophobia and the character constantly vomiting everywhere. The narrative voice was what grabbed me the most, from start to finish, and it was what made the book stand out for me. That’s because, despite its glide through feeling and time, the novel scratches an itch that few books can reach. It’s disturbing, honest and seeps into the psyche of the reader in the same way water pervades the narrative. I find they pull me in, that I end up devouring them in one go while my head whirrs like an overclocked computer.That means that with every subscription, we are supporting people in poverty to get back on their own two feet. The story assumes a non linear structure, almost like throwing broken pieces on the ground and arranging them into a collage: an epic of loss and ultimately, hope. This change of time setting is reflected by the beginning of the script of a play written by the main character which retreads some of the events from a more modern perspective. Back in the 1970's when I was maybe 19 or 20 I was reading Anthony Burgess's 'Earthly Powers'* and was asked why I was reading another gay novel. His sister, Birdee, has taken up with a one-armed former soldier, and Joe rekindles the relationship he had with another youth, Tim Fysh, a local fisherman—a relationship which is both loving and essential to both of the young men, but brutal at times.

And when one day, standing like an idiot staring through the glass that’s covered in clouds galloping across the sky behind, you’ll get an idea. Ransom’s fractured, distinctive prose highlights the beauty and brutality of his story, his extraordinarily vivid sense of place saturates the reader with the wet of the river, and the salty tang of the heaving sea. When he was fifteen years old, he was caught in a compromising situation with one of his classmates, Shane Wright, which would forever haunt the two of them. This almost biblical event has affected both the area and Eli greatly, and he's still trying to pick up the pieces of his life.You can read more about the purposes for which we and our partners use cookies and manage your cookie settings by visiting our Cookie Policy.

There is plenty of frank sex as well as violence, confusion, anger, love, hate, hope, kindness, generosity, egotism, selfless and selfishness and every other emotion, action and potential action that you can think of. This wasn't a book that I was relieved to finish, in fact, I wanted to keep reading once I had reached the end. It may seem contradictory (so much of this novel is), but equally impressive, in spite of the bleakness of Joe’s life and events, there is beauty ever present—be it in Ransom’s writing or the final events which flood the pages of the novel like a rising tide. Discovering Joe’s complex relationship with his father, with his sister Birdee, with his lover Fysh and with the river is transfixing. I appreciate literary fiction, and sometimes I feel that maybe I'm not smart enough to fully understand it, but this inclusion and shift went completely over my head and out the window.Numerous sexual contacts with other males (short as these scenes may be in the novel, they are still explicit none the less), are generally random, unloving, unfulfilling, and without emotion. Seldom, outside the realms of gay royalty like Alan Hollinghurst, have I read a novel about gay people so well written.

A young fem man, Eli is an outsider at a time when being 'a sissy' (language I found disturbing, however accurate) is guaranteed to cause problems.And so, THE WHALE TATTOO is both a dream and a nightmare, both a pursuit of objectivity and an escape from the claws of morality. Soon, the love that they each have in their lives overflows into hate that may very well destroy them. This made for a gusty and at times grubby read as well as exerting an almost elemental power especially with Eli’s relationships with the female characters. Jon Ransom speaks to comedian and podcaster Cariad Lloyd about his book, writing queer voices and the bond between siblings.

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