Invisible Ink: No 122 - Gerald Gaskin

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The Independent Culture

In the world of invisible authors, few can vanish more completely than those whose choice of subject matter goes against the morality of the times.

Gerald Glaskin was born in 1923 in the so-called "Cinderella State" of Western Australia, but like many young Australians he chose to join the navy and leave his homeland, probably due to the oppressive atmosphere of machismo that left a rather theatrical gay youngster feeling trapped and resented by his six siblings. It didn't help that he was charged with indecent exposure in Perth, in circumstances that sound similar to the UK's "pretty police" entrapment policy of the 1980s.

During recuperation from an injury sustained while in the military he began to write. His first novel, A World Of Our Own, about the lives of recently demobbed soldiers, was published in London and won the Commonwealth Literary Prize in 1955.

Although he made extended stays in Asia and the Netherlands, he usually returned to the surfing beach-life of his homeland. But by this time he had begun to write about subjects that would further isolate him in Australia; youthful suicide, incest, homosexuality, and the mistreatment of Aboriginal natives. His books were reviewed with a level of animosity that suggested small-town critics didn't take kindly to castigation from a worldly, intelligent mind.

Glaskin was a partner in Perth's only late-night café, The Coffee Pot, which became a meeting place for bohemians, students and migrants. Like most great jobbing writers he covered an extensive range of subjects and styles, producing short stories, novels, poetry, tales of espionage, science fiction, autobiography, popular fiction and volumes of spiritual guidance. His children's novel A Walk Through The Hills was filmed in 1989.

Glaskin's biggest success had to be written under the pseudonym of Neville Jackson because it positively depicted a gay love affair, and was lightly based on his own life with his partner. No End To The Way was published in the UK to critical acclaim and is one of the few popular successes ever written in the second person. The book was promptly banned in Australia, and could not be shipped over due to censorship laws, so publisher Corgi chartered planes and flew copies in instead.

As a result, Glaskin is still better known in the UK than in his native land. He's entirely out of print, but collectors of iconic paperback covers can seek out the sexy design created by Corgi.