A lethal mixture of sex, religion and MTV, Mind That has been described by Gayes's then-teenaged daughter as "not very healthy but a good laugh" in a conversation between herself and God.

 

At its most serious it deals with the spiritual dimensions of sexuality and the need for the world to recognise Prince as our one true Hope of Salvation.  At a less serious level it is a celebration of Cork, of humour, of gay sex in particular and of life in general.

The plot? Well, it tells how the narrator Tony is brought back to Cork in an urn having died of AIDS in London and how his friends make fitful efforts to fulfil his last wish and scatter his ashes on the grave of Little Nellie Of Holy God in the Good Shepherd Convent. 

 

However Tony discovers that he isn't keen on being buried after all – he's doing fine as a spirit and besides, he's in love.  Meanwhile Dec (who's into a bit of cross-dressing – as a nun), Mother the artist, Mad Mary (Mother's poxy-faced catamite), Tizzy (famed for his one ball) and the rest meander around a city where meandering is a way of life.

"Yeh could say the honeymoon was ovur. To tell yuh the truth I was pissed off. Isn't human nature a queer thing?  You'll grant me 'human nature' I hope? Dead an' all as I am."

 

Tony, "the only survivor of AIDS unknown to modern medicine", last encountered as ashes in an urn in Mind That 'tis My Brother, emerges her as a free spirit with no visible means of support and a serious case of angst.

His attempt to discover that meaning of death in Cork City (while acting as Guardian Angel for his beloved Declan and friends of assorthed genders) is sabotaged by TVs, turtles, the Guinness Jazz Trail, and a tendency to slip off to the jungles of Indo-China where he is side-kick to Major O'Hara, a man's man and the very head off Clint Eastwood.

 

But Tony is a survivor, he hangs in there to the bitter end . . .

 

I watched Khadija. I wanted to be comforted like the children. I wanted to grasp her golden breasts with their dusky overlay of indigo. I wanted to lay my head on her rounded thighs and breath in that musky mix of indigo and sweat and oil-based perfume – his smell – the smell of his tribe.

 

The haunting voice of Katherine, the passionate heroine of Polygamy. Set in Northern Nigeria and French Niger on the edge of the Sahara, Polygamy is a personal story of joy and betrayal.  Honest, passionate, gut-wrenching.   

"The writing is a delight and includes one of the most erotic scenes of love-making I have ever read (and re-read). Polygamy takes the reader on an exotic compelling journey."  Image Magazine

 

"A mesmerising, exquisitely-written story of love and betrayal, set against the vast and corrupt backdrop of Africa." Marian Keyes

 

 

 

I studied the possessed man again as my heart thudded to the drumbeat. Then a woman threw herself into the circle in violent orgiastic dance. "The spirits have caught her too!" shouted Chimbizat. Two of the women darted forward. One removed the huge silver earrings which swung crazily from the dancer's elongated lobes, while the other fumbled at her back.  As I watched the baby being lifted from the mother's back – the ecstatic face of the mother, the fat little startled face of the baby , the two other faces intent on a familiar task – the old woman at my side fell to the ground and began to roll in a frenzy. A powerful revulsion seized me by the throat.

 

As the dust-laden harmattan wind sweeps over the southern Sahara, Ellen, an Irishwoman, searches for her lost lover and struggles to come to terms with a culture which is on the verge of extinction. 

"The rhythm of her words conjures up a story that is both magical and convincing"  Evening Herald

 

"She weaves an authentic spellbinding story of a love that must overcome huge differences, in a novel which is different in context and atmosphere from the usual." Dublin People/Southside News

 

 

Mind That 'tis My Brother

Poolbeg Press 1995

Turtles All The Way Down

Poolbeg Press 1997

Polygamy

Poolbeg Press 1998

Harmattan

Poolbeg Press 1999

Rough Rides in Dry Places

Poolbeg Press 2001

Sex rears its head in Africa and a bunch of willing takers make a bid for what's on offer.  Ned dreams of settling down with a nubile local lass.   Fate instead presents Fati, of uncertain age and outsized mammary glands . . .

 

Jan isn't quite ready to take on the younger brother of her ex-lover – but a Tuareg teenager with rampant hormones is hard to keep down . . .

 

Simon, already living with a luscious Nigerian, longs for a family – unfortunately, being quite the wrong sex for successful impregnation, no amount of cross-dressing is likely to do the trick . . .

 

Their dream mates take flight and head for the Sahara. They pursue. All in all it's a rough ride.

 

 

Contact Gaye at gaye@gayeshortland.com

Gaye Shortland Irish author who writes of Africa and Cork

© 2009-2021 by Gaye Shortland