Carmichael, Jay.. “Ironbark”, Scribe US, 2019.
Masculinity and Alienation
Markus Bello’s life is on hold. He lives in a small country town in Australia and has lost his best friend, Grayson. Living in a small country town, mourning the death of his best friend, Grayson .He feels alone, isolated and adrift Markus must try to face his grief, and come to terms with what is left. In “Ironbark”, Jay Carmichael has written a beautiful coming of age novel with as well as the importance of place as a catalyst for the shaping of personal identity. We also see what society feels is necessary for one to be a man. Written in gorgeous and elegant prose,
Carmichael takes us into the mind of Markus. We have had many coming of age but this is a new of looking at it with all of its wonder, ugliness, tenderness, and cruelty. Markus must find peace in a place where he feels he does not belong. He feels that he is unable to understand or express love and attraction and holds on to his desire to have kissed his best friend but now is hoping to end his loneliness. Markus is filled with longing, awkwardness and a passion for things he will eventually grow out of.
His true grief comes from never having been able to tell Grayson how he felt about him and neither can he tell anyone else because of the high expectations of those around him and the fact that someone’s sexual uncertainty well not be welcomed. The book is divided into four sections and the story moves from the present back to the past beginning with the events of Markus’s life from two weeks after his friend’s death. We become very aware of the prevalent attitudes in a small town, and the problems encountered by the town’s youth: “boredom, angst, anger, pressure to conform and, in this case, the concealment of true feeling, an unrequited love.”