Friday, 16 October 2020

What I'm reading: LGB parenting

Christopher Preston: THE DONORS

Chris Preston is a member of my Gay Authors Workshop group in London. This is his second novel and draws, I’m guessing, on some of his own experiences.

London in the 1990s, the era of Aids. Mark and Adrian, a gay couple in their thirties, decide to respond to adverts for sperm donors in the Pink Paper. The advertisers are lesbians, singletons and couples, keen to be mums and hoping for gay men who will want to take a paternal interest in their donations. I hadn’t realized that the D-I-Y procedure can be just as effective as the more expensive fertility clinic. A landlady in my student days used a turkey baster, I can’t remember why. 

Mark has a few misfires but Adrian hits the spot very quickly. As Adrian’s relationship with pregnant Sheryl deepens, Mark begins to feel neglected. His personal life, like his career as a theatre designer, lurches between hits and misses. 

All the characters here have the feel of real people taking one unusual step in otherwise ordinary lives. The Aids epidemic doesn’t cast too big a shadow. The story has moments of tenderness, moments of anger, moments of cruelty – all of which give it the immediacy of a soap opera. It’s a very engaging read and would make great television.

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