Annabel

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“Boy or girl?” It’s the one question people feel safe asking a new mother, since it can hardly cause offence. But what if the answer isn’t straightforward? Even today, in our supposedly broad-minded age, you’d feel a bombshell had been dropped if the proud parent were to reply simply: “Both.”

In Annabel, an intersex baby – one testicle, a penis, one ovary, a womb and a vagina, since you ask – is born to Jacinta. It’s 1968, and she lives in a remote Canadian hamlet with her husband, Treadway, a trapper of few words but strong principles. It is he who decides that the child will be brought up as a boy, to the eternal sorrow of Jacinta, who, unlike him, is quite capable of encompassing her baby’s male and female identities in her love. She feels she has lost a daughter, and a friend secretly christens the baby Annabel behind the minister’s back. So, with a little help from the doctors, young Wayne unwittingly starts life as a boy with, as he puts it later on, a girl curled up inside him. Read on…

Adrian Mayfield

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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.

The Center of the World

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When I was about 14 I carried a book with me everywhere for months because I just couldn’t let go of the protagonist. It must have been the first time that I really fell in love with a book. Welcome to The Center of the World… 

A coming of age story set in a remote mountain range in Germany; Author Andreas Steinhöfel weaves the elegant tale of a seventeen-year-old boy named Phil. Although the novel does deal with Phils sexuality, it primarily illustrates his tumultuous relationship with his unconventional mother, Glass, and reclusive twin sister, Dianne.

The family occupies a large estate, called Visible, on the outskirts of a socially repressive and ultra-conservative town. The town not only discriminates against Glass because of her promiscuous nature, but they transfer their criticisms to her two children. Therefore, throughout Phil’s childhood, he feels ostracised despite his mothers advice to ignore the harshness of the “Little People,” the people who inhabit the town.

Phil does discover refuge in the form of a young and vivacious girl named Kat who becomes his one and only ally. However, despite Phils seeming acceptance of his sexuality, he does not believe that his family or his friends would approve of his relationship with charming and attractive runner Nicholas who becomes his first boyfriend.

The novel is written in a first-person narrative with intermittent flashbacks that describe the roots of Phil’s personality. Steinhöfel’s greatest accomplishment is that he portrays homosexual relationships as the equivalent of heterosexual relationships. By demonstrating that the journey towards self-discovery of a young gay man is the same as that of a young straight man, Steinhöfel shows that discriminatory views on homosexuality are completely unfounded. In addition to vividly depicting Visible’s breath taking surroundings, his crisp and graceful prose provides insight into Phil’s complex thoughts and emotions.

Satisfying the reader with Phil’s self-discovery, the author does an excellent job of balancing the scales between satisfaction and misery, having and longing. By the end of the novel, one aches with a confused combination of happiness and grief. Steinhöfel and his novel deserve every word of praise.

English ISBN: 0440229324 | German ISBN 3551353158
English Version at Amazon | German Version at Amazon


A film based on the novel was released in 2016 in both German and English. I haven’t seen it yet and therefore can’t tell you if it does the book justice.  I have my doubts after watching the trailer which you can find below (and the actors being too old, as always, is only the most obvious of my many little complaints) but then again, I’m as biased as it gets so if the story sounds interesting to you at all, do give it a shot; or, if you already did, let us know in the comments how you liked it.

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Center of My World (Original Title: Die Mitte der Welt)
Release: 2016, Germany | IMDb | Facebook | Website

The Lover

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One of the biggest influences in the early years of milkboys was Destroyer, a glamorous magazine that was maybe the most (in)famous project in a long line of inspirational and controversy-sparking endeavours by Karl.

Destroyer was discontinued a few years ago but Karl wasn’t done poking and testing the borders of our ideas about sex, youth and morality. Among other things he published what was, as far as I know, the first uncensored and translated shota comic in Europe for example.

lover-logo

Now he’s back with a new project: The Lover is the sequel to Destroyer – a magazine with political, cultural and photo features on everything about the boy. Karl explains what’s behind the name:

“A lover is someone who loves. It can be important to remember that when getting lost in the jungle of paragraphs regulating what expressions our love lives are allowed to take; sexual politics demand the presence of a lover, be it for a lifetime or for five minutes in a dark alley. Without a lover, no intimate human relations to regulate.”

lover-preview

The Lover has just come out with its second issue. You can find it at the Eisenherz bookstore in Berlin or in the webshop (where also back issues of Destroyer can be bought).

Fanfic Friday *1

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We had pictures, videos, films, music and so on. Let’s try something new and rather nostalgic: Stories! I’ll pick some funny, silly, hot or otherwise interesting fanfics or other stories for you every now and then and you can save them for cosy Sunday mornings if you wish ;)  Send us your favourite stories as well!

Today’s theme: Game of Thrones!

Tommen “Can’t hug every cat” Baratheon

The Hand of the King by Nicholas Patrick

Tommen, first of his name, King of Andals, the Rhoyar and the First Men, Defender of the Faith and Lord Protector of the Seven Kingdoms perched anxiously upon the Iron Throne. His herald stepped forward preparing to announce his first and only appointment at court for the day.

“Ser Loras Tyrell of Higharden,” the herald barked before resuming his hovering position to the left and slightly behind the chair forged of 1000 swords (or like 200 if you just watch the show). Loras entered looking slightly confused. He couldn’t remember how he had ended up back at court.

“Your Grace,” he said hoping to find out just what was going on. “Why have I been summoned? The last thing I remember was either being horribly burned at the siege of Dragonstone or locked up by the Faith Militant on false allegations.” The King stood.

“My good Ser Loras, we’re in the show’s version of events. I am the super cute 17 year old Tommen who loves boning your sister, not the affable 6 year old who plays with cats from the books.”

Somehow that made sense as all the courtiers turned and nodded agreement to each other. But that only half answered why the heir (or 3rd son, depending on your perspective) to Highgarden was summoned by his brother by law. Tommen began to clarify for him.

“You see, I have been unable to secure the release of your sister, the Queen or my mother, the Queen, but the High Sparrow told me I could have another Queen of sorts.”

The assembled crowd let out a hushed round of laughter that ended when the herald pounded his staff on the stone floor. “I don’t understand your Grace… What is going on?” the Knight of the Flowers inquired.

“On the condition that you accept 7 punishments for your crimes (crimes which for the record, I’m totally ok with; It’s just religion, you know) you will be released into my custody where I plan to name you the Hand of the King,” Tommen declared causing murmurs to rise up from the lords and ladies inside Maegor’s Holdfast.

Loras was relieved and afraid all at the same time. He just had two more questions for his King. “Thank you my King,” he began. “I am forever in your debt. But I wonder, what are these 7 punishments, and which Loras Tyrell am I again? The late teen, lithe and agile but surprisingly strong Loras from the books, or the beefcake mid 20s Loras from the show…” his voice trailed off.

Read on…

I think I’m a Poof

milkboys Books & Magazines, Mixed & Random 15 Comments

Queer writer and relationships columnist Samuel Leighton-Dore’s new picture book I Think I’m a Poof addresses the challenging realities often faced in our youth, including discovering yourself, and being on the receiving end of bullying. Samuel has filmed three Aussie dads with gay sons reading the book and discussing their experiences.

Copies of the book are available from ithinkimapoof.com, with $1 from every book sold being donated  to QLife, an Australian counselling and referral service for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex people.