A new novel for teenagers by Darwin-based author Shane Thamm has broken the silence on male teenage body image issues.
Shane’s debut novel, My Private Pectus, is about a young man coming to grips with a physical deformity.
“It’s a timely novel because it’s estimated that 45 per cent of men in Western societies are unhappy with their bodies. This figure has tripled in the last 25 years. It’s no longer a girls-only affair,” he said.
Shane, who grew up in Alice Springs until he was 12, wrote My Private Pectus while studying a Master of Arts at QUT in Brisbane. He now works on the Casuarina campus of Charles Darwin University.
Head of QUT’s Creative Writing and Literary Studies program, Associate Professor Sharyn Pearce said: “My Private Pectus was written as part of Shane's Masters thesis in Creative Writing. The examiners described it as a ‘brilliant book’, which is both funny and illuminating about boys and body image. Shane's book takes young adult writing in a new and cutting edge direction. It's a terrific read.”
Reviewer Jenny Mounfield, in children’s book review magazine Buzzwords, described My Private Pectus as “frank, hard-hitting and edgy. My Private Pectus should be compulsory reading for anyone who wants to understand what it means to be male.”
Shane admitted to facing his own body image anxieties at high school.
“I remember being nervous about my own body when I was a teenager: too skinny, too hairy, that kind of stuff. Looking back I was normal, just like the other guys, but that anxiety was very real,” he said.
“The novel is a serious, yet comical portrayal of a young man who is ashamed about his body, and the things he’ll do at school to overcome that shame. It also deals with alcohol and casual drug use, and proposes that teenage boys are more intelligent and resilient than adults often think. In essence, it’s a tale about learning to be comfortable in your own skin.”
Shane will hold a free public launch for My Private Pectus at Absolutely Books, Cullen Bay, on Friday 2 October at 5:30pm.