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Strange boy stranger point-of-viewStrange Boy by Paul Magrs 224pp Simon Schuster The publicity for this novel has made much of the fact that it has a gay theme Or else that it doesnt its hard to tell The books editor says disingenuously Some people will doubtless pick up on the gay elements of the book - which are treated frankly and honestly - as being shocking and controversial I would argue that the real controversy of Strange Boy lies in the fact that its not making a big deal out of having a gay child as its protagonist Unlike the publicity perhaps To deal with that aspect of the book at once the narrator is a 10-year-old boy who feels an interest in other boys penises especially the one belonging to his older friend John for whom he has a tender and delicate regard And thats it He does not mention it often and very little is done about it The only people likely to be disturbed by this are professional fusspots who dont matter But if you are going to give Strange Boy to a child you should either know the child well or read the book first That is true of all books of course So that is not a problem - which is not to say that the book has no problems To begin with there is the lovingly evoked 1970s setting The book includes a 14-page 1970s glossary at the end which is more like an imitation of Gilbert Adairs brilliant Myths and Memories than anything that would be useful for a young reader today In fact the Adair connection is closer than that one of Adairs memories reads I remember as a child taking my trousers and underpants down in a forest to see what it felt like which is very like something that happens in Strange Boy But if you are going to explain the past it helps
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