Have queer, will travel

Translated from the original German by David Miller, this short novel tells the story of an Oscar Wilde-like (or is he more Byronic?) poet named Douglas Fortescue, a strapping blonde Yorkshireman who has reinvented himself as a thin, dark proto-Goth in early 19th-century London. Escaping to the United States one step ahead of a morals charge, Fortescue has misfortune to be in a stagecoach held up by the legendary outlaw “Little Josh” Jenkyns, a deadly gunslinger who knows most of Fortescue’s poems by heart. What follows is a love story, but without a lot of the romantic trappings common to the genre; in particular, the two fellows’ struggles with head lice are less romantic than comic, gross and ultimately very historically accurate. It may take a European to fully deconstruct the myth of lighting out for the West to find freedom, and this novel makes a good case for Wunnicke as that writer.