Paul Dalgarno Answers 8 Quick Questions about his Hilarious Debut, Poly

Paul Dalgarno Answers 8 Quick Questions about his Hilarious Debut, Poly

What are you reading now, and why?

I tend to read a few books at the same time – mostly by Australian writers these days as I feel (even ten years into living here) I’m still playing catch-up. I’ve just finished Throat by Ellen van Neerven, and The White Girl by Tony Birch, both of which I loved. I’m currently flitting happily between Normal People by Sally Rooney, The Watch Tower by Elizabeth Harrower, and Mammoth by Chris Flynn.

What are some of your favourite childhood books?

I didn’t read much as a child – hardly anything, in fact. So my childhood reading has mainly been reading to my own children and enjoying that. Matilda and just about anything else by Roald Dahl rates highly. And when the kids were younger, all of Julia Donaldson’s books. Weirdly enough, my nine-year-old also really enjoyed me reading him Slaughterhouse-Five recently, with some real-time editing from me whenever death and decay reared their heads.

What books do you think portray love and relationships well?

The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro is such a beautiful love story – an elderly couple setting off from their home on foot to find a son they are struggling remember, and supporting each other in a world of ogres and dragons. For a study of desire and its drivers, I couldn’t look away from Three Women by Lisa Taddeo.

What books have made you laugh?

Too Much Lip by Melissa Lucashenko is one of my favourite books in recent years. That made me laugh a lot. And then cry. Shirl by Wayne Marshall also has a nice mix of laugh-out-loud and sadness. Zadie Smith sometimes makes me spit out my tea, and The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams always gives me a chuckle. I’m particularly drawn to black humour, so had lots of laughs with Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman.

You’re currently living in Melbourne – where is your favourite place to read?

Honestly, at home in Coburg. But otherwise, I really like reading in the Queen Victoria Gardens, which is close to where I work … or used to work, before the pandemic.

Your debut unpacks the salacious topics of polyamory and sexuality. What inspired you to write about these themes?

My wife and I opened our relationship a few years ago and it quickly became clear that there aren’t many fictional stories out there about what those types of relationships look like or how they might develop over time. There are plenty of how-to and theoretical guides, some of which are really helpful, and many YouTube videos of glam young people without kids explaining their polyamorous lifestyles. I wanted to write something that seemed truer to my own experiences and those of polyamorous friends and their families.

The book follows Chris and Sarah Flood, a married couple who open their doors to polyamory. What can you tell us about them?

Sarah used to be a professional dancer and loves poetry, particularly Rumi. She’s great in a crisis and is kind and compassionate, if sometimes a little loose with the truth. She’s studying for a health sciences degree while working part-time in a myotherapy clinic. She loves her young children but feels worn down by years of domestic drudgery, and she’s also grieving the death of her long-term extra-marital love interest. Chris is an introverted people-pleaser who works in a comms role for a library, plays guitar more or less competently, loves music and reading, has cratering self-esteem, and wants to be a good father and husband. As well as grieving the recent death of his mother, he frequently despairs at his sexless marriage and wants more than anything to reconnect with Sarah.

If given the opportunity to host a dinner party and invite six authors – alive or deceased – who would they be?

Bruce Pascoe, Bernardine Evaristo, Haruki Murakami, Hunter S. Thompson, Maria Tumarkin, Ruby Hamad.


Read an Extract of Paul Dalgarno's Searing Debut, Poly

Review | Extract

7 September 2020

Read an Extract of Paul Dalgarno's Searing Debut, Poly

    Poly by Paul Dalgarno is a Hilarious, Witty and Engrossing Debut

    Review | Our Review

    7 September 2020

    Poly by Paul Dalgarno is a Hilarious, Witty and Engrossing Debut

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        Publisher details

        Paul Dalgarno
        Ventura Press


        Chris Flood – a married father of two with plummeting self-esteem and questionable guitar skills – suddenly finds himself in the depths of polyamory after years of a near-sexless marriage. His wife, Sarah – a lover of the arts, avid quoter of Rumi, and always oozing confidence – wants to rediscover her sexuality after years of deadening domesticity.Their new life of polyamory features late nights, love affairs and rotating childcare duties. While Sarah enjoys flings with handsome men, Chris, much to his astonishment, falls for a polydactylous actor and musician, Biddy.Then there’s Zac Batista. When Chris and Sarah welcome the Uruguayan child prodigy and successful twenty-two-year-old into their lives they gratefully hand over school pick-up and babysitting duties. But as tensions grow between family and lovers, Chris begins to wonder if it’s just jealousy, or something more sinister brewing…A searing and utterly engrossing debut, Poly is a raw, hilarious, and moving portrait of contemporary relationships in all their diversity, and an intimate exploration of the fragility of love and identity.
        Paul Dalgarno
        About the author

        Paul Dalgarno

        Paul Dalgarno was born in Aberdeen, Scotland, and immigrated to Australia in 2010. In Scotland, he was a senior features writer, columnist and Deputy Weekend Features Editor with The Herald and Sunday Herald newspapers. In Melbourne, he was a launch editor, Deputy Editor, Arts Editor and Science Editor of The Conversation website. Paul has written for many Australian publications including Guardian Australia, Australian Book Review, Sunday Times Scotland and The Big Issue. His memoir, And You May Find Yourself, was published in 2015 (Sleepers Publishing). In 2016, he was awarded a Varuna Residential Fellowship to work on his second book. When not writing, reading or parenting, Paul loves to cycle vast distances. Poly is his debut novel.

        Books by Paul Dalgarno


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