I am reading male writers now. It’s for research. Cis men who are gay, bi, queer or straight. I’m trying to understand what literature can tell me about the performance of masculinity, or rather, how men think they are performing masculinity. On Twitter I love to read tweets by Stephen Pham and Khalid Warsame. They take the excruciating minutiae of their daily experiences and turn it into beautiful prose exercises. Khalid once tweeted about all his memories of rabbits. Stephen moves seamlessly from growing plants to the injustices of capitalism. They write about driving, drawing lessons and leisure. They extrapolate… [Read more]
My phone starts pinging; I watch as the notifications illuminate the screen, one after another. I last about two minutes before I’m compelled to open them. Six messages from O in belated response to a request I had sent for an analysis of a line that haunts me from Beckett’s Worstward Ho: ‘Something there badly not wrong’.
I am trying to reconstruct in my mind the intervening time between the call of ‘Land’ and the moment I came to myself with the concerned face of our surgeon Mr Monkhouse looming over me.
‘Lieutenant Cook, sir. We are much pleased to welcome you back to the land of the living.’
I’m ten, maybe eleven, so it must be the late nineteen-eighties. It’s school holidays and my grandmother is driving my sister and I over to Rickett’s Point, to fossick in rockpools and numb our toes in the chill of Port Phillip Bay. It’s not the weather for the beach, but Nanna looks up at clear patch of sky and says, reassuringly, ‘There’s enough blue to make a sailor’s jacket’. Nanna was born in the last few months of the worldwide Spanish Flu pandemic. As I write this, just over eighty people have died in Australia of COVID-19. When acknowledging this… [Read more]
I tell myself today is not the day to write a love story, a story about a great painting or a tale of the coast, panel vans, waves and zinc. I am not going to write about Skyhooks playing at Tom Katz in Sorrento or Noosa and living on bananas and milkshakes. Or my little boys in their Cats jumpers taking screamers at dogshit park. Those days are not today. Today is the hum of the traffic on Punt Road filtering across a bare tree I am gazing at. It is winter 2012. I am lying on a couch. Tell… [Read more]
It’s very hard to know how to feel about the Commonwealth Government’s forthcoming track-and-trace app. Most of that can be attributed to the Government’s own confused, uncertain and contradictory messaging.
1. Melodrama: An Aesthetics of Impossibility by Jonathan Goldberg It arrived on Twitter: a screenshot of a note from the longstanding gay bookstore around the corner from my house, offering a 20% full store discount, making a request for the neighbourhood and the world to visit, browse and purchase, to help keep them open during this difficult time. Though I’ve passed it many times, I don’t think I’d ever bought anything from here—the shopfront display I mostly remember for its Bel Ami and Sean Cody calendars—but somehow I felt the need to support. I have a complicated relationship with gay… [Read more]
Early in March, Mum sends a text: ‘Hi Bec do you have a toilet paper shortage up there we do here lol none’. All of this panic is amusing at first; aren’t we all taking this—whatever this is—a little overboard? When I finally go to the local Woolworths, I tentatively walk down the toilet paper aisle, expecting that the buying panic has subsided, assuming Mum had blown things out of proportion when she said she drove to no less than eight different supermarkets to find it. And then I see it for myself: an entire aisle of empty shelves. After… [Read more]
America and the world changed while I was mid-air. It was a small interruption, but a telling one. After a week in Minnesota and Wisconsin, for the Super Tuesday primary, roaming the borderlands, where in 2016 Obama counties had gone Trump, I’d come back to Minneapolis-St Paul to fly to DC, around March 10. By that point, it was clear that life had been altered, but not yet that it had been decisively changed. The national life continued: the primaries were still marching on, even though there had started to be mutterings about whether they should; sports continued, the lifeblood… [Read more]
Theoretically, I’ve been training to lockdown for most of my life. I’m a writer, mostly an introvert, and work pretty productively at home. In the earliest days of this mess my thinking was that if I could just prevent people from coughing out any plaguey particles near me, I could survive—nay, perhaps even thrive—in this time of awfulness. In practice, it hasn’t quite worked out that way. March 13 was my last time on campus before we transitioned to teaching and researching from home. It wasn’t as though those last days were any kind of pre-pandemic utopia—I’d already been using… [Read more]