Goldie Goldbloom is fast becoming an international literary star. Her last novel, The Paperbark Shoe – a subtly queer love story set in Australia’s past – has been winning a swag of literary awards.

And now the West Australian ex-pat has a new collection of short stories out, You Lose These, which is sure to win the heart of the world once again.

‘Everyone wants to love and be loved, it’s a universal condition,’ Goldbloom told OUTinPerth from her home in Chicago. ‘And yet so many things get in the way, including the person themselves. You Lose These is my exploration of the ways in which people yearn for love and yet are often unable to get it.’

The collection focuses on people who are living at the edge. Not ‘on’ the edge, but ‘at’ it, dwelling in the shadows or outer reaches, people who get labelled ‘freak’ or ‘weirdo’ or ‘odd’. Goldbloom scoops these people up and shakes their world around, scattering it with wit, observations, surprise and sensitivity.

‘I’m not very interested in tame people. I like the kind that rant and kick and buck and carry on, because you can see some of their insides on the outside.

‘If I could write like Mavis Gallant,’ she added, ‘then I could write about still, deep people and it would be beautiful and profound, but I can’t, so I write about noisy, cranky, talk-the-hind-leg-off-a-donkey type people. And besides, it’s so much more fun.’

Goldbloom’s day job is working with queer and trans* youth who are at risk in Chicago. The plight of homelessness in regards to such youth appears in this collection. Goldbloom’s passion and dedication to their welfare is evident in both her writing and her conviction.

‘There’s a couple of stories in You Lose These which arose directly out of my rage and frustration with the reality of the homelessness and abuse of queer and trans* youth.

‘Seeing youth come in on Monday mornings, cold, tired from riding the trains all weekend, and starving hungry was juxtaposed in my mind against the many large buildings in Chicago which have been empty for years, and the insane quantities of food which get thrown out of restaurants and super markets.’

‘I’m a pretty timid person, and my voice isn’t very loud,’ Goldbloom added. ‘But I always hope that my written words might reach someone who can help.’
Goldbloom herself is no stranger to being on the outer: she herself is an orthodox Jew and a queer person. In those two worlds, the use of the other label appears to raise eyebrows.

‘It’s funny, because I have to come out in the queer community as orthodox (and thereby lose about ten IQ points, and a heck of a lot of cool), and also come out in the orthodox community as queer (where I have been told, erroneously, that there “are no queer orthodox Jews”). I’m happy to say that I think windows are opening in both directions.’

You Lose These + other stories is out now through Fremantle Press.

Scott-Patrick Mitchell