London was a very different place in the early 1980s. Ian Young regales us with colorful stories about Finsbury Park, a neighborhood and its fascinating habitués long gone—gay skinheads, anarchist poets, and stoned stamp collectors—resisting the dark forces of a Thatcherite government.
“In London Skin & Bones, a corner of the past comes alive, regenerates flesh and muscle, and throws on a coat (with a freshly–rolled joint tucked in its pocket) to wander a neighborhood populated by an unlikely, diverse tribe of friends who weave in and out of stories with familiarity so warm you’ll wonder if these tales came from your own memory—or your own dreams. Ian Young knows you can fall in love with a city with the same enthusiasm and eroticism you fall for a person, and deep in blue-collar London of the 1980s, with its eclectic shops and sporadic downpours, its veterans and refugees of other countries’ wars, its confident sexuality rising like a collective adolescence, an easy mingling occurs. Reading these stories, you’re not a stranger in a strange land. You’re a traveler welcome to a cup of something warm or something strong, someone’s hand tapping lightly on your shoulder with an invitation to join the next spectacular adventure right around the corner.” —Bryan Borland, author of DIG and Less Unfortunate Pirates
“Like Isherwood’s ‘I Am a Camera’ Berlin Stories, Young’s interlocking London stories of Lad Culture, told by a book-loving ex-pat photographer, are droll mugshots of boxers, shop boys, immigrant gangsters, stoned philatelists, and their older tor/mentors who survived the 1940s Blitz easier than 1980s Thatcherism. A marvelous book! Quoting Noel Coward, ‘I couldn’t have liked it more!’” —Jack Fritscher, PhD, author of Mapplethorpe and Gay San Francisco
“Ian Young gives us a wonderful sense of a particular time and place in 1980s London, but he does so much more than simply that. His fascinating cast of skinheads, scoundrels (charming ones at that), collectors, and eccentrics turns the cliché of the ‘city as character’ on its head, reminding us of a neglected truth: that a city is its people, that the flow of beautiful, flawed and fascinating people is what gives a town, and a life, its texture and vitality. Even better, he shows us this in interwoven vignettes that are as unfailingly delightful as they are edifying.” —Peter Dubé, author of The City’s Gates and Beginning with the Mirror
“In 1980, Ian Young came to live in an area of north London where we so-called Londoners never thought of setting foot. We made a big mistake! Resident there was a colony of more colorful figures than could ever be imagined—refugees, skinheads and shopkeepers, decent, kindly, humorous, perhaps not always absolutely honest folk (Russell the landlord ran the Blind Guide Dogs charity racket), enduring a repressive Tory government but determined to live life to the full. Young is not the first London chronicler since Dickens to use the short-story format, but the time has come to put the earlier books up for a while and settle down with London Skin & Bones. All hail Ian Young, the Boz of Finsbury Park!” —Timothy d’Arch Smith, author of The Frankaus and The Books of the Beast
“Skinheads, punks, boxers, and refugees—Ian Young’s 1980’s Finsbury Park is ground zero for the queerest of the queer. If fiction is about character, Ian Young’s stories are masterpieces, shedding light on gay life in a colorful working-class London neighborhood. Radically gay and radically political, Young is always a refreshing voice in gay letters. This is fresh fiction—unlike anything you’ve read. Move over Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City. Finsbury Park has arrived!” —Trebor Healey, author of A Horse Named Sorrow and Eros & Dust