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Man's World

by Rupert Smith

Michael intends to get through his National Service by keeping his head down, not drawing attention to himself, and above all, keeping his diary hidden. Fifty years later Michael's young neighbour, Robert, proudly flaunts his gym-sculpted body on London's gay scene, blogging about his exploits. Light-hearted and full of warmth: two gay love triangles are about to meet ...

Extract

  He's holding a bar in a bicep curl. His biceps are big. So are his pecs, deltoids, triceps and lats. The legs are great. Everything is in proportion. He has a tattoo on his forearm; it's a bit smudgy on the black-and-white print, but it looks like it could be a bird of some sort. On closer scrutiny, it could be a peacock.
      ...
      I strip to my underwear, and duplicate the pose in the mirror. It's like a distorted reflection in a fairground mirror.
      There's a rusty mark on the top border of the print, and a hole in the middle, where a drawing pin must have gone. I find a new pin and carefully tack the picture to the headboard of my bed, so he's watching over me.
      I wish I'd met Mervyn. But I only ever saw his dead body being carried away in an ambulance.

Parallels

The Spell by Alan Hollinghurst
The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox by Maggie O'Farrell
 

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