Shortlisted for the 2016 Victorian Premier's Unpublished Manuscript Award
He shouldn't have a life he never asked for and be expected to love men. With their problems never spoken outward. And childhood trauma and family issues. Men wanting to be held or hold.
Markus Bello's life has stalled. Living in a small country town, mourning the death of his best friend, Grayson, Markus is isolated and adrift. As time passes, and life continues around him, Markus must try to face his grief, and come to terms with what is left.
Stylistically assured and quietly compelling, Ironbark is an elliptical and beautifully evoked contemporary coming-of-age story. Through his protagonist, Markus, newcomer Jay Carmichael depicts the conflict and confusion of life as a gay man in rural Australia, and explores how place can shape personal identity by both offering and restricting potential. A moving portrait of grief and loss, Ironbark is also a devastating account of the toll exacted by our society's expectations of what it means to be a man.