Adrian Mayfield

milkboys Books 9 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.

Comments 9

  1. Seems kinda, maybe just a little, like “A Rent Boy Named …”

    Speaking of teenage life, what happened to the Teenboys’ Corner blog? No updates for almost a month now, and comments are closed on existing posts

  2. “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.

    Good. Hopefully he can find an honest publisher, or consider publishing it himself and sell it on the Internet. If it becomes successful, then a publisher will be knocking on his door for a contract.

    So much for “free speech” in book publishing. The reader is the best “censor” — NOT the publisher.

  3. Simple but beautiful drawing. Not translated yet, another reason to learn foreign “tongues!”

    1. Or, if you really want/need to be successful enough, then provide your art for the largest viewership. We can’t all know multiple languages.

      1. Reminds me of the time Bubba and Cooter were sitting at a bus stop when a European tourist approached them. “Sprechen sie Deutsch?” he asked. Bubba nd Cooter just shrugged their shoulders and shook their heads. “Par le vous Francais?” the tourist asked? Again, Bubba and Cooter just shrugged their shoulders and shook their heads. “Habla usted Espanol?” Same response. Finally the tourist left in obvious disgust. Bubba said, “Maybe we should learn a foreign language.” Cooter said “Why? That feller knew a bunch of them, and they didn’t do him any good.”

  4. Read this in German and it is one of the very best gay novels I’ve read in my 64 years of reading every gay book I can get my hands on. Only “The Hustler” by John McKay has affected me more because I feel a particular affinity for the German Hustler “Myth.” Don’t know how Adrian will read in English as it does make a difference, but I can’t wait.

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