The Adversary

Ronnie Scott

The Adversary
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The Adversary

Ronnie Scott

‘I was an agent of Dan, a captive of his, really. I went where he wanted me, and did as he wanted, and for a long time, in this way, I was happy.‘

It’s been a long winter in a creaky house in Brunswick, where a young man has devoted himself to recreational showers, staring at his phone, and speculating on the activities of his best friend and housemate, Dan. But now summer is coming, and Dan has found a boyfriend and a job, so the young man is being pushed out into the world, in search of friendship and love.

The Adversary is a sticky summer novel about young people exploring their sexuality and their sociability, where everything smells like sunscreen and tastes like beer, but affections and alliances have consequences. It asks what kinds of stories are possible - or desirable - for which kinds of friendships, and what happens when you follow those stories to their natural conclusions.


With his debut novel The Adversary, Ronnie Scott has gifted readers the most relatable coming-of-age narrative I’ve encountered in some time. With a hot and empty Melbourne summer ahead our unnamed protagonist, a homebody in denial, finds himself slowly coaxed into the world by his housemate Dan. The two were uni friends on tandem paths, sharing first tutorials and then a Brunswick terrace. But now undergrad is over and the real world has created a fork in the road.

For Dan, adulthood is appealing, complete with new job and new boyfriend. But our protagonist is reluctant to head as far from home as the Fitzroy Baths. Scott has captured a pitch-perfect slice of the inner-north of Melbourne. It’s an overly real world with repetitious geography that slowly expands to foreshadow the gradual and near-invisible transition from young adult to slightly less bumbling adult.

The Adversary is a coming-of-age novel set in the not-too-distant past; a time when being in your twenties doesn’t mean that you’re an adult, rather, it’s a time when you’re just a kid fumbling through, trying to find a way, and to work out what works.

Full of humour and resulting in the some of the biggest laughs a book as given me in a long time, it’s early to make the call but it is certainly going to be hard to top The Adversary as book of the year for me.

Ford Thomas is part of the online Readings team.

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