A tender exploration of the love that truly dare not speak its name – that between master and slave. On his eighteenth birthday, Colin literally stumbles upon a strapping biker twice his age, and falls into a long-term relationship characterised by devotion, mystery, and submission. In plain unadorned prose, Mars-Jones shows us the tender, everyday nature of this. Self-deprecating, sad, and wise.
—Fiona McGregor

A sizzling and deeply touching love story between two men, set in the gay biker community of 1970s London

Box Hill

Fiction by Adam Mars-Jones

In Box Hill, a vivid coming-of-age novel, a young man suddenly wakes up to his gay self—on his eighteenth birthday, when he receives the best gift ever: love and sex. In the woodsy cruising grounds of Box Hill, chubby Colin literally stumbles over glamorous Ray—ten years older, leather-clad, cool, handsome, a biker, and a top. (Colin, if largely unformed, is nevertheless decidedly a bottom.) Colin narrates his love—conveying how mind-blowing being with Ray is—in comically humble-pie terms. “If there are leaders then there must be followers, and I had followership skills in plenty just waiting to be tapped. To this day I can’t see a fat kid in shorts without wanting to rush over and give him what comfort I can. To tell him it won’t always be like this.”

Mars-Jones uses Colin’s naivete to give a fresh view of the world and of love. Before long, however, homophobia, class, family strife, and loss rear their ugly heads. Yet in the end, it seems Colin’s modest view oddly takes in the widest horizon: he learns that “people can care about anything.” A surprise and a pleasure, Box Hill is an intensely moving short novel.

Buy from:

Paperback w/ flaps (published September 1, 2020)

ISBN
9780811230056
Price US
14.95
Trim Size
5x8
Page Count
112

Ebook (published September 29, 2020)

ISBN
9780811230063
Page Count
112
A tender exploration of the love that truly dare not speak its name – that between master and slave. On his eighteenth birthday, Colin literally stumbles upon a strapping biker twice his age, and falls into a long-term relationship characterised by devotion, mystery, and submission. In plain unadorned prose, Mars-Jones shows us the tender, everyday nature of this. Self-deprecating, sad, and wise.
—Fiona McGregor
If Tom Of Finland had grown up in deepest Surrey in the 1970s, his homoerotic sketches of muscly motorcyclists and police officers might’ve resembled the men depicted in this slim, smouldering novel…A vividly realised coming-of-age tale, Mars-Jones – known for his elegant fiction as well as penetrating literary criticism – lets it all hang out in this quietly powerful exploration of sexuality, sadomasochism and the self.
Buzz Magazine
A well-made piece of work, with prose as witty – if not quite as rich, which is appropriate – as well as being sad and strange: the ballad of Colin and Ray.
Sydney Morning Herald
There’s an endearing anti-glamour to this novel, from its geographical setting — the bikers live in suburban locales rarely featured in contemporary fiction, such as Woking and West Byfleet — to its affectionate evocation of the cultural landscape of the 1970s — a world of shandies, Wimpy, Advocaat, obsolescent British-made bikes and the word ‘naff.’
—Houman Barekat, Spectator
It is a testament to Mars-Jones’s skill that we finish the book with everything illuminated, and yet, quite properly, everything left in the dark.
Telegraph
A clever and subtle novel.
—Max Liu, Financial Times
A subtle, biting novella…Although repressed boomers of Surrey are probably not the target audience of this intimate, stirring novel, they would probably enjoy this portrait of an impossibly lost age.
—Martin Chilton, Independent
An exquisitely discomfiting tale of a submissive same-sex relationship… perfectly realised.
—Anthony Cummins, Observer
The biggest small book of the year.
Guardian
Adam Mars-Jones has never needed to write at great length to convince readers of his talent…Mars-Jones’s latest work is a sliver of a novel that provides ample evidence of his prowess…Box Hill is not a novel for the prudish, but it is a masterclass in authorial control…Despite its diminutive length, it is rich with detail and complexity, and has plenty to demonstrate Mars-Jones’s well-deserved place on any list of our best.
—Alex Nurnberg, Sunday Times
Mars-Jones colors Colin’s tender reminiscences with humor, sex, and tragedy. This is an indelible snapshot of 1970s English gay biker culture.
Publishers Weekly
Mars-Jones’ trim, poignant novel humanizes the intricacies of a dominant-submissive gay relationship…. A relationship that could seem profoundly unfair blossoms into a revelation of love and magic.
Kirkus (starred)
Mars-Jones’s prose is exceptionally nimble, dry, humorously restrained, very English, with a little Nabokovian velvet too. He can describe more or less anything and make it interesting.
—James Wood, The London Review of Books
I very much enjoyed Box Hill. It is a characteristic Mars-Jones mixture of the shocking, the endearing, the funny, and the sad, with an unforgettable narrator. The sociological detail is as ever acutely enduring.
—Margaret Drabble