Jupiter’s satellite Io, observed by Voyager 1 at about 4:30 p.m. (PST) March 2, 1979. (NASA)
Paul Burston writes in the Independent: “Reviewing his first (non-fiction) book Who Was That Man? back in 1988, Edmund White remarked that, “Neil Bartlett has grabbed history by the collar and made bitter love to it.” It’s been a tendency of his ever since.
In both his theatre work and novels like Skin Lane and Mr Clive and Mr Page, Bartlett has celebrated homosexual lives in times less tolerant than our own, reminding us that gay men were exploring their sexuality long before politicians voted to allow us to form legally-binding relationships. Put simply, Bartlett delights in taking that which was once hidden and making it clear for all to see.
For his latest novel, it’s tempting to say that he does the opposite. Reggie Rainbow is the “disappearance boy” of the title – an angry young man stunted by childhood polio who finds employment with an illusionist called Mr Brookes, helping him to “disappear” a series of glamorous female assistants. The year is 1953 and the setting is Brighton, where Mr Brooks has been offered an unexpected and potentially lucrative slot at the Brighton Grand in the run-up to the coronation. Seduced by the sea air and the freedoms offered by a new start in a new town, Reggie begins to explore the possibility of a life less solitary, bonding with new assistant Pam and venturing out to places where men meet in search of physical pleasure and the chance of love.
Bartlett is a seductive narrator. The Disappearance Boy is written in an intimate, conspiratorial tone familiar to readers of his Costa-nominated novel, Skin Lane – repeatedly addressing the reader with phrases such as “as you will remember”, “as I said”, “if you know what I mean” and “I’m sure you know the kind of thing.”
Wild Concrete Romain Jacquet-Lagreze
"Wild Concrete is a photographic series focusing on a very singular phenomenon happening in Hong Kong. Usually wherever human beings are thriving, they always try to keep in control of their direct environment. But in this bustling city, trees can grow impressively on residential buildings. They are the proof that our control is not ever-lasting and they show us how this very loss of control can bring true beauty. Wild Concrete is about nature taking back, it is a demonstration of the tenacity of life in our urban environment."
"Coral reef, area 233"
Recycled glass vases by Masako Kitamura.
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