A very enjoyable book and impressive debut. Three stories set roughly 50 years apart in London. All involving rent boys as significant characters. The book is well written and the characters well developed. The story from 1894 was one of the young rent boys involved with the trail of Oscar Wilde. The handling of this story reminded me of the Sins of the Cities of Plain (which is acknowledged in the afterword). The 1954 story about the late coming out of an artist inspired by his muse, who is a rent boy. This was the most enjoyable of the threads as the Jonathan Kemp captured beautifully the writer’s internal struggle and its repercussions. “1998” Was the story told by a lad in prison about falling in love (with a rent boy) which was mesmerising at the end and written with great passion.
The afterward was also a great read and probably reflects the authors academic roots. I discovered Polari Journal [An International Queer Creative Writing Journal, currently on Issue 2] and a few books to add to my wish list (or to request from the library)—
- The Victorian Underground, Kellow Chesney
- The Verdict of You All, Rupert Croft-Cooke
- London and the Culture of Homosexuality, 1885-1914, Matt Cook