'Families can detonate. Some families are torn apart forever by one small act, one solitary mistake. In my family it was a series of small explosions; consistent, passionate, pathetic. Cruel words, crude threats... We spurred each other on till we reached a crescendo of pain and we retired exhausted to our rooms, in tears or in fury.
'Ari is nineteen, unemployed and a poofter who doesn't want to be gay. He is looking for something - anything - to take him away from his aimless existence in suburban Melbourne. He doesn't believe in anyone or anything, except the power of music. All he wants to do is dance, take drugs, have sex and change the world.
'For Ari, all the orthodoxies of family, sex, politics and work have collapsed. Caught between the traditional Greek world of his parents and friends and the alluring, destructive world of clubs, chemicals and anonymous sex, all Ari can do is ease his pain in the only ways he knows how.
'Written in stark, uncompromising prose, Loaded is a first novel of great passion and power.' (From the publisher's website.)
Set over the course of one night, Head On focuses on Ari, a handsome nineteen-year-old boy of Greek descent who finds himself torn between his traditional upbringing and his sexual identity. As he attempts to come to terms with where he fits in, Ari careens between hanging out with his friends and bickering with his family while also becoming involved in several heterosexual and homosexual encounters.
'Literature is a reflection of the culture that spawns it. As a queer teenager growing up in Sydney’s outer western suburbs, my access to literature was limited to the books we had at home—airport novels—and the small collection at my high school library, mostly classics. So far as I knew, old white men wrote books; Ruth Park, Ursula Le Guin, Virginia Andrews and Danielle Steele were the exceptions.' (Introduction)
'This article takes an autobiographical approach to explore the changes that have occurred in Australian suburbia over the past twenty years. It considers two key queer texts—Christos Tsiolkas’s Loaded (1995) and Peter Polites’s Down the Hume (2017)—and the manner in which the protagonists of these novels express their class and sexuality in their respective suburbanscapes. Published more than twenty years apart, I argue that the process of queering Australian suburbia that can be read in both novels opens up a space to reimagine how class, ethnic and sexual mobility is negotiated in contemporary Australia.' (Publication abstract)
In a wide-ranging interview, Tsiolkas discusses film and television adaptations of his work, critical reception of his work, his politics, the role of sex in his books, and what the description of his books as 'controversial' might mean.