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Glove Puppet


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About the Author

Born in Melbourne, Australia in 1964, Neil was dubiously educated at various high schools and at Camberwell Boys Grammar. At the age of seventeen he abandoned his education and suburban family home life for the lure of life's more ephemeral things. He was worked in publishing for many years, has been a frequent contributor to OUTRAGE magazine in Australia and is a regular columnist for Sydney's Capital Q.


Australian writer Drinnan's titillating first novel is ultimately saved from a mere descent into voyeuristic pornography by the searingly perceptive narrative of 20-year-old Johnny Smith (later to be known as Vaslav Usher). The novel opens with a scene of the narrator at age seven, in London's Victoria Station, where his prostitute mother dies of an overdose. Enter Shamash Usher, a prestigious Australian dancer and ballet company co-founder, who has come to England to reclaim the seven-year-old son, Vaslav, whom he hasn't seen since infancy. On learning that his son has died, the dancer whisks Johnny, redubbed Vaslav, off to Sydney, Australia, to live a life of privilege. What follows is Johnny's examination of the events leading to his current tragic circumstances: his first sexual encounter at 12 with Shamash, unleashing an unquenchable lust for more; their exposure, leading to Shamash's death; and Johnny's inability to control his need for constant stimulation from drugs and sex (described in graphic detail). Drinnan pushes the envelope in describing Johnny's sex-obsessed, sordid life (as when Johnny describes looking for the top bidder to publish the steamy details of his affair with Shamash, "let them be led and teased slowly, give them almost enough prosaic foreplay to be ready for the literary `fucking' they're going to get"). In the end, readers are uncertain whether Johnny is grieving Shamash's death or merely exploiting it. (Oct.)

This debut novel presents a disconcerting coming-of-age account narrated by a homosexual teenager. While visiting London, Shamash‘a highly regarded leader in the arts and gay communities of Sydney, Australia‘discovers a seven-year-old street boy named Johnny sitting beside his mother, who has just died of a drug overdose. Shamash, whose own child was killed by his mother in an apparent murder-suicide, seizes the opportunity to rescue Johnny and raise him as his son, renamed Vaslav. Growing up amidst the pornography, drugs, and alcohol that surround Shamash, Vaslav becomes sexually curious and begins to see Shamash not as a father but as a partner. The assumed incest is later discovered by an outraged public, and Shamash is condemned to prison, where he dies under suspicious circumstances. Vaslav sells his story to a magazine and runs off to Europe to live in a hedonistic fog of sex, drugs, and alcohol. The characters remain shallow and the tabloid plot stretches the bounds of credibility. Not recommended.‘David A. Beronä, Univ. of New England, Biddeford, ME

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