Bibliophile | LGBTIQ+ stories shine in ‘Underdog: #LoveOzYA Short Stories’

Underdog: LoveOzYA Short Stories
Edited by Tobias Madden
Underdog Books

#LoveOzYA (Love Australian Young Adult Fiction) is a collection of short stories from new Australian writers. Is has grown from a humble hashtag into a movement showcasing the work of young adult fiction writers, giving them a chance to be seen, heard and noticed.

Edited by Tobias Madden, this is a collection of 12 short stories by emerging Australian writers celebrate the diverse, dynamic and changing nature of our nation’s culture. There is a strong contingent of stories that centre on LGBTQ+ teen characters in Madden’s independently published collection including his own.

In Variation by Tobias Madden, a young boy from a small country town in Victoria, where no one had even seen the Billy Elliot film, decides he wants to be a dancer. The town is just big enough to have its own Coles but has 6 pubs and 4 football teams, so that gives some indication of how much his decision made him a taunted outsider.

When Andy wanted to audition for a full-time ballet school in Melbourne, his father said he’d made a big enough full of himself as it was and “prancing around like a poof as a hobby was one thing, but being a professional prancing poof was another”. Despite all the taunts, Andy wasn’t gay and he has many life lessons to overcome before he discovers his true identity.

Mediocre Heroes by Sarah Taviani is a story about a super generation where adolescents get super powers and there is a support group for young people whose powers haven’t emerged. Then there is an elitism classifying powers and “anyone who doesn’t fit the mold isn’t going to cut it”. It is an hilarious parable about being defined by what society decides is a power.

‘The Swan’ by Felicity Martin is a powerful story about the constant companion of grief, metamorphosised as a black swan. “Marlowe slowly grew used to the swan’s presence. Day and night it was there. Sometimes it held her down in the middle of the night and she woke up panting and gasping for air. More often, it simply sat, and watched, and waited.”

As Sophie Macdonald says in her story Breathe Me In, “we create our futures with stories from the past. Be careful which stories you choose to tell, and which you choose to conceal”. This collection of works by the latest generation of writers shows a wide range of styles and preoccupations. Each story is a gem in this sparkling array of emerging talents.

Lezly Herbert

Available from all good book stores and online retailers.