Writing & News

Prudish Nation by Paul Dalgarno in Fairfax Media 16/6/23

Review by Cameron Woodhead and Steven Carroll

Prudish Nation
Paul Dalgarno, Upswell, $29.99

The question of whether we are a prudish nation is largely examined here through the prism of non-monogamy. But Dalgarno, a polyamorist, casts his net far wider than that. He interviewed more than 30 writers with varying shades of sexuality and the result is a kind of snapshot of unconventional sex lives today and his interviewees’ search for a place in what Dennis Altman calls “a couple culture”. To the question are we still prudes, Patrick Mullins says, “Yea, definitely”, while Lee Kofman is more positive. Whatever the orientation, experiences of society’s responses to their choices differ widely. As in the choice of what might be called labels, Altman preferring “queer” to LGBTQIA+, a mouthful, he says, for SBS presenters. Woven into this is Dalgarno’s poly life. The nation might be, but there’s nothing prudish about this book.