We're delighted to present an extract from Acts Of Desperation, the debut novel by Megan Nolan, published by Jonathan Cape.

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Listen: Megan Nolan talks Acts Of Desperation with Ryan Tubridy


Is it possible to love someone without knowing them, by sight?

How can I describe what happened to me without the word love?

I stood in that gallery and felt not only sexual attraction (which I was aware of, dimly, as background noise) but what I can only describe as grave and troubling pity.

By this I don't mean that I felt myself to be above him. For almost our entire life together I would consider Ciaran to be better than me in both essential and superficial ways.

By pity, what I mean is that just by looking at him I felt an acute tenderness for his condition: his being human. In that moment the basic affection and sorrow I feel for any human person was intensified to such a degree I could not breathe.

Even now, even after all that took place between us, I still can feel how moved I am by him.

Ciaran was not the first beautiful man I slept with, or the first man I had obsessive feelings for, but he was the first man I worshipped. His body would become a site of prayer for me, a place where I could forget about my own living flesh and be only with his. It was a thing of total pleasure, total beauty.

Do you think I am unaware of calling his body a place, a thing? Do you think I am unaware of what it is to be a woman speaking this way about a man’s body? What do I know about the body of a man – and can any single one of them deserve or need a moment more of praise?

What must it feel like to be beautiful but also invisible whenever you choose to be? To be a beautiful man?

Acts Of Desperation by Megan Nolan (published by Jonathan Cape) is out now.