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As a former expat, I imagined it would not be easy to take up residency in Turkey with its complex cultural, social and political forces. Not to mention the challenge of being a gay couple, ‘infidels’ in a country where you would expect to encounter a mix of tolerance.
Jack Scott absolutely delivered on my expectations and I learned that acceptance and descent sometimes come from unexpected quarters …
As the reader, I was transported in my mind to Turkey Street’s ‘now-you-see-them-now-you-don’t’ pavements and placed in scenes of intimate proportions. This included high-octane arguments, between his close-by neighbours, and ‘something to challenge the gag reflex’ - his landlady’s tripe soup.
Jack’s observing of the expat community is telling. To help us understand how they operate and clan together (or not) he cleverly coins a number of energetic expressions by which to identify them. Fondness and disdain intermingle, with each vivid character and hilarious troupe.
What I enjoyed most though, was the personal story of the relationship between our starring couple; Jack and Liam. Their affection for each other shines through in the dialogue; Liam to Jack, ‘Don’t raise your eyebrows at me dwarfy’. Meanwhile, Jack encourages Liam to face his nemesis - an enormous grouper – while dining out, ‘Calm down, Liam, it’s a fish, not a nuclear warhead’.
I appreciated that Jack Scott’s tale of Turkey life feels real and balanced. He shows both the cultural immersion and the less attractive reality. For example, the ‘pot bellied Brits wobbled along the prom … adding a little Croydon to my panorama’ and the touching story of a couple separated in the counter-revolution at twenty-three. With the wife heavily pregnant and her husband exiled for eighteen months to a remote village.
We learn how their Bodrum experience, a vivid chapter in the couple’s life, is impacted by the pull of loved ones back home and plans are sometimes interrupted. This is all part of the expat lifestyle, which inevitably has to be faced up to. As Jack puts it, ‘Some people are stalked by happenstance. Others have to grab fate by the throat.’
If you appreciate Jack Scott’s irreverant blog, which certainly ruffled a few feathers in Turkey, you’ll love reading more of his satire around the boy’s Ottoman adventure. I recommend Turkey Street to you, ‘bawdy boat trips’ and all.
About Laura J Stephens
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