“A brilliant debut novel by Canadian writer Jeffrey Luscombe that explores the inner and outer life of a ‘latent homosexual,’ Joshua Moore. Luscombe revitalizes the over-romanticized ‘coming out’ novel by subjecting it to a cold shower of literary realism.”

—Dick Smart, Lambda Literary 

226 pages, paperback


Also available in digital formats @ $9.99.

Release date: 7/16/2012

Fiction, Gay Fiction, Literary Fiction, Debut Novel

Shirts and Skins


a novel by Jeffrey Luscombe


A remarkable debut novel from Jeffrey Luscombe—a compelling series of linked stories of a young man’s coming-out, coming-of-age, and coming-to-terms with his family and fate.

Josh Moore lives with his family on the ‘wrong side’ of Hamilton, a gritty industrial city in southwestern Ontario. As a young boy, Josh plots an escape for a better life far from the steel mills that lined the bay. But fate has other plans and Josh discovers his adult life in Toronto is just as fraught with as many insecurities and missteps as his youth and he soon learns that no matter how far away he might run, he will never be able to leave his hometown behind.


Finalist, The Kerry Schooley Award 2013, sponsored by Hamilton Arts Council



About the author

Jeffrey Luscombe was born in Hamilton, Ontario Canada. He holds a BA and MA in English from the University of Toronto. He attended The Humber College School for Writers where he was mentored by writers Nino Ricci and Lauren B. Davis. He has had fiction published in Chelsea Station, Tupperware Sandpiper, Zeugma Literary Journal, and filling Station Magazine. In 2010 he was shortlisted for the Prism International Fiction Prize. He was a contributor to the anthology Truth or Dare (Slash Books Inc. 2011). He lives in Toronto with his husband Sean. Shirts and Skins is his first novel.


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Photo credit by John Burridge Photography.

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Read an excerpt from Shirts and Skins


Praise for Shirts and Skins by Jeffrey Luscombe


“Tightly written and keenly observed, Shirts and Skins is an impressive debut from a writer we’re sure to hear more from.”

Nino Ricci, author of Lives of the Saints, Testament, and The Origin of Species

 “Shirts and Skins is an assured and compassionate novel. Jeffrey Luscombe understands the power of what isn't said and has created a work that sizzles with repressed sexuality and family tension. The characters are utterly believable. A satisfying and compelling work.”

—Lauren B. Davis, author of Our Daily Bread, The Radiant City and The Stubborn Season

Shirts and Skins is a novel that will speak to anyone who has ever felt the inextricable bonds of the past, or felt the long shadow of family and home places as they strive towards the light of wholeness of identity and self-ownership. A first novel deeply felt and skillfully told, by a writer with insight, compassion, and talent to burn.”

Michael Rowe, author of Enter, Night and Other Men's Sons

Shirts and Skins is authentic in its pathos, eloquent in its delivery, and well worth the read.”

—Kyle Thomas Smith, Edge

“It is not often that we get a new take on an old story, especially one that is as beautifully rendered as this. I am greatly impressed and anxious to see what else Luscombe can come up with.”

—Amos Lassen, Reviews by Amos Lassen

Shirts and Skins is well-plotted and told with a craftsman’s touch, deeply felt characters and a gritty sense of place.”

—Jerry Wheeler, Out in Print

“Each story brilliantly captures a mood and paints a vivid picture… I’m not a huge fan of coming out stories, but this one I can highly recommend, because I feel it is more about overcoming a lifetime of bad choices to finally savor that sweet wine of triumph. It is about battling one’s culture and past, to find one’s identity. Shirts and Skins is a story that, I feel, everyone can relate to.”

—Alan Chin, Examiner.com

“An intriguing, at times disturbing, peek into the mind of a character who is only half aware of his own feelings. Luscombe is clearly after something different in this book: it is less about coming out than it is about going in. Josh’s repression is far more interesting than his liberation, which is a much more familiar story. In his adherence to the closet, as in his father’s depression-fueled withdrawal from the world, we see the tragedy of self-denial. Unlike his father, though, Josh eventually finds the strength to pull himself out of denial and embrace his truth. It’s a journey that still resonates for us all.”

Lewis DeSimone, Lambda Literary

“[The] reiteration of Josh's conditioning toward privacy, or shame, adds a clever layer to the social commentary that is the driving force of the book. Luscombe gives a solid voice to an undersung narrative and an underappreciated town. Shirts and Skins invites its readers to dig a bit deeper.”
—Jonathan Valelly, Xtra!

“In the depths of despair, standing outside looking in, Josh touches the hearts of those who have lost their way to their dreams and aspirations. His inability to find himself finally leads to an epiphany of his hidden, yet acknowledged, desires.”

American Library Association GLBTRT Newsletter

Read an interview with author Jeffrey Luscombe

Jeffrey Luscombe interviewed in Xtra!

Jeffrey Luscombe interviewed in the Hamilton Spectator

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