BROTHERS IN ARMS by Michael Carson


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A warm and funny first novel about growing up gay and Catholic in England in the 1950's. ""Fat"" Benson--also known as ""Wobbles""--is the 14-year-old son of a policeman, lives in a little town near the Irish Sea, and is a wretchedly pious little Catholic who dreams of expiring with ""Jesus! Mary! Joseph! I give You my heart and my soul"" on his lips. He is also, he discovers to his shame and horror, gay (""I'm fat and I'm a homo""). Unable to face his lusts anymore, he decides to ""save"" himself by going to St. Finbar's, a seminary where he will banish all impurity and arise, phoenix-like, as a Brother. Predictably, however, the place is rife with sexuality: the now slimmed-down and handsome Benson is groped by a lecherous elderly priest, sighs for a black brother visiting from Africa, and has a ""P.T.""--Particular Friendship--with a fellow novitiate. But innocent flirtations end when another novitiate performs a ghastly act of self-mutilation with a scythe; Benson had nothing to do with it, but the powers-that-be rudely expel him. Back at home, Kennedy has been assassinated, the swinging 60's are about to roll into high gear--and Benson surprises himself by shedding his Catholicism, finding an older lover, and standing up to his schoolboy tormentors. An amusing, moving debut--all about coming-of-age and coming to terms.

Pub Date: Sept. 9th, 1988
Publisher: Pantheon