fine writing by lesbians and gay men since 1999
The Queer Commando
Pete Carter joins the Marines by mistake, just in time for the 1950s Suez incident. To survive as a homosexual National Serviceman he needs not only humour, but help from his friends. In this novel, Pete relives his military experiences in frank, funny and moving revelations to a close female friend.
"One of the greatest books about the Royal Marines is The Queer Commando by Paul Mann. This is an account of his life in the Marines doing his National Service at the time of Suez. It is just as true of the Royal Marines to-day. Of course, we don't see much sexual activity in Iraq!"
a serving marine, Pink Paper, 3 December 2004
"There are few books which evoke tenderly and amusingly the truth and sometimes tragedy of the recognition of sexuality and comradeship in the all-male services. The Queer Commando is in a fine and funny tradition."
"This is a heartfelt story, told from experience by someone who, in spite of his difficulties, never succumbs to cynicism in the face of obstruction, and who manages to find tenderness in the least expected places."
Sebastian Beaumont, Gay Times
"As the book progresses, it gets better and better... The final part turns into a beautiful and very moving love story. Humour and insight and tragedy, what more can you ask."
additional review bottom right of this page
ISBN: 978 0 9553543 1 1
published by Paradise North, distributed by Paradise Press
3rd edition: 342 pages paperback; £9.99
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Paul Mann started his career pushing out beach-floats. After the Marines, a bank in Toronto, 11 years at sea, ran a disco, owned a Chinese takeaway, washed dishes, collected tickets on a ferry to a gay beach, packed bread in Tesco's where he lasted one week. Now he dusts and takes the dog out.
He is a member of 42 Commando Association.
The Last Cargo Ship
The Queer Businessman
The Seaman's Mission
The Open Season for Mongooses
Review by fellow Paradise Press author: Kathryn Bell
The queer commando is Pete Carter, a gay man who elects to do his National Service in the Royal Marines under the mistaken impression that he would spend the time at sea. The first part of the novel shows Pete coping with basic training and his strategies for dealing with officers, NCOs, and his friends and enemies among the other National Servicemen. The rigours of training and the stresses and compensations of life in an enclosed society of men, where cigarettes and chocolate bars are currency and banter is conversation, are shown in convincing and humorous detail.
In part two he sees military action in Suez where he develops unexpected talent as a hair-cutter and makes new friends, including Bolder whose unhappy history he learns years later, and Nadine who becomes a close friend and confidante. His National Service over, Pete works in passenger ships and keeps his journal - then Bolder comes back into his life, and other old friends join him for a sad reunion. This novel is very funny in parts - the only thing Pete shoots while on sentry duty is a hen, and he is not allowed to forget it - but tragic in its portrayal of a life - Bolder's - marred in its beginning and never fulfilling its potential.