The Adversary Review
Imagine Call Me By Your Name but set in Melbourne, and nothing actually happens, but somehow you have a really good time - that’s The Adversary by Ronnie Scott.
I absolutely loved it. Yes, nothing happens. The story spans a summer - a short summer - and is centred around a nameless narrator who is obsessed with his best friend and flatmate Dan. Aside from going into Dan’s room when he’s out, our narrator fills his time with showers, staring at his phone, and talking to men on Grindr.
The story is impressive considering what’s absent - we don’t have a name for our main character, we’re not given any information about his family, he doesn’t seem to have any friends aside from Dan, there’s no proper dialogue that lasts more than a couple of sentences, and the furthest we ever go into the past is a recent period when our narrator joined a gym and a brief reminisce about being at uni with Dan. This book gives you nothing by way of a plot and still manages to delicately explore the complexity of queer relationships. Perhaps it is because it gives you nothing, because the main character is so void of characteristics, that the relationships feel so real - our narrator is such a perfect self-insert that you have no choice but to see yourself in his place.
While Dan is easily the most fleshed out character in the book with the strongest voice and strongest relationships (perhaps because our narrator spends so much time thinking about him), my favourite character had to be Chris L. Described as always wearing sunglasses and a silver cape because he has a flair for the dramatic, I couldn’t help but picture Daniel Levy in my mind. If there’s ever a movie based on this book, I want the narrator played by Timothée Chalamet and Chris L simply must be played by Dan Levy. And in case you were wondering, there’s no other Chris in the book and it’s never explained why the L is included, but it just seems to make sense. It also hints at a conscious choice by the author not to include any other characters aside from the main troupe. Of course there are other people in the characters’ lives (Melbourne is teeming with bodies after all) and there likely is another person named Chris but the author made a decision not to write anyone who isn’t relevant to the story - and even then, only some of them actually got names. Whether purposeful or not, it’s an interesting way to draw attention to the importance of our social circle. The closer the proximity to the narrator’s life, the more detail the characters are given - ranging from Dan and his white shoes, to our Uber driver who had one line of dialogue but didn’t get a name.
How gay is it? 10/10. There are no straight characters in this book, except maybe the one Uber driver, but then who really knows, right?
This book is an expertly paced weekend read - it might leave you with some questions, but all in all it’s an enjoyable one that you’ll relish ripping through.
Find your copy of The Adversary here!