Adrian Mayfield

milkboys Books 3 Comments

Rarely has a book for young adults been so eagerly anticipated as Tricks of the Trade, the third book by the popular young author Floortje Zwigtman. She understands better than many that adolescents aren’t looking for a neat book of instructions for the future. These are stories that tell it like it is, historical novels about surviving in conditions where the laws and morals of polite society no longer seem to apply.

Adrian Mayfield is born in the poor East End of Victorian London, the son of a pub landlord and a seamstress. However, a different career lies in store for him. It’s not a scenario that the street-hardened lad could have envisaged: a wealthy older gentleman falls in love with him and takes him home. The man is Augustus Trops, a second-rate artist from Flanders. He introduces Adrian to the flamboyant circle of Oscar Wilde, where he meets other men like Augustus and finds work as an artist’s model. The work pays well and he meets the most interesting and powerful people of his time. Adrian is very pleased with his new life at first. Everything appears to be going swimmingly. Until, that is, London’s beau monde decamps to Europe for the summer holidays, as happens every year. Adrian, by now accustomed to luxury, ends up without any income.

In a male brothel he discovers the flip side of his new life in the twofaced London of the nineteenth century, where gossip, blackmail and brutal police violence make homosexuality a highly dangerous way of life. Then he faces the choice of whether to put his integrity and his friendships on the line so that he doesn’t have to live in a mouldy, cockroach-infested garret.

Tricks of the Trade is an intense book that is difficult to put down. It draws the reader in without resorting to cheap sensationalism. This is a result of Zwigtman’s unique ability to combine critical distance with open intimacy. The raw, breathtaking writing of this sharp, historical portrait really makes the reader think about life. Zwigtman is one of the great modern writers of books for young adults.

This is the first book in a series of three and was published in Dutch under the title Schijnbewegingenand in German as Ich, Adrian Mayfield. There is no English translation yet because all interested publishers asked the author to remove some of the explicit sex scenes considering the age of the target audience but Zwigtman, luckily one could argue, refused to do so.

Skirts for Shorts

milkboys News 18 Comments

Breaking gender norms, especially for practical reasons, is not just for queer activists. With temperatures sometimes close to 40°C currently plaguing many parts of Europe, there are school boys who also wanted in on the action.

Some had borrowed from girlfriends, others from sisters. A few had gone the extra mile and shaved their legs.

About 30 boys in  in Devon, England wore skirts to school in protest at being told they were not allowed to wear shorts to school. Head teacher Aimee Mitchell said shorts were ‘not part’ of the school uniform.

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Alone with Mr Carter

milkboys Films & Cinema 6 Comments

In 1997, the year Ellen DeGeneres comes out, John is a boy who dreams of becoming a cop. He wants to confide in his neighbour, Mr. Carter, that he is secretly in love with him. Time is of the essence as the 65-year-old heterosexual detective is moving away forever.