Posted 20 hours ago

The Whale Tattoo

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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. Right from the start there is crudeness and a constant barrage of swearing from the first-person narrator – totally justified in my opinion, and I am someone who doesn’t swear. You breathe the salt air, hear the slap of water against the banks, smell the oil and petrol and the choking diesel fumes.

As time goes on and we learn more about them, the characters gain more complexity giving the story a rich texture. Ultimately, this is a tale of hope in the face of our demons and an exercise in finding the beauty and tenderness in the brutality of life.Isabel Costello ‘Seldom, outside the realms of gay royalty like Alan Hollinghurst, have I read a novel about gay people so well written. Having stormed out of home two years ago, Joe knows he has to go back, even though it won’t be easy. I can honestly say that I've never read anything quite like it and I have read a lot of books over the years. The only thing is Norfolk itself doesn't feature as much, having spent a lot of time there when I was younger, and given the prominence of the description, I rather thought it was going to be a book that was of it's time and place. For now, the memory of this story has galloped through my head as quickly as it raced through it's storyline.

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. You can change your choices at any time by visiting Cookie preferences, as described in the Cookie notice. The book has a rather charming way of story telling, that at first was a little hard (perhaps to do with the linebreaking on the preview copy! Ransom's short stories have appeared in many anthologies and journals including Queer Life, Queer Love amongst others.The narrative voice was what grabbed me the most, from start to finish, and it was what made the book stand out for me. Relentlessly bleak at times and sometimes reading like a gritty, arthouse gay French film set in Norfolk with all its discarded fag ends, bodily fluids and grimy sex, there is nevertheless a lot to like here. the water whispering truths and lies to him, drawing him closer and giving him a constant sense of doom. Instead, the shock of feeling plays out on the surface, raising hair and skin alike, never slipping far enough to strip the narrative of its haunting visuals.

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