March 26 , 2011



B.J. Freedman's "TBoaTYO" is a comic novel about boylovers and their boys. Its cynical yet understanding take on the amusing foibles of international boylovers will annoy some, but at heart it's just another sweet man-meets-boy story with some surprises along the way.

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It's 1984 in Los Angeles. Bernie Boyle, lately a taxi driver, is bored with his life and frustrated that his passionate boy-love novel "The Body of a Ten-Year-Old" is still sitting in his cousin Joe's drawer. Joe's a New York literary agent, and gay, but he's convinced the book is unpublishable. So when Bernie is suddenly confronted with an unusual means to escape his dreary life, he takes the chance, and leaves for distant shores that promise a boy-love paradise.

Bernie's in Manila, showering in three-star hotels with thirteen-year-olds, when to Joe's surprise "The Body of a Ten-Year-Old" not only gets published but becomes a bestseller and a controversial sensation. Bernie is unaware of his new fame as he sets out for the white beaches of Mindoro. He's also unaware that America's self-appointed sex vigilantes have assumed what's in the novel isn't fiction, and that author Bernie has himself done everything he assigns to his voracious boylover hero. Then old Joe the agent is mistaken for Bernie by a national TV news crew, and angry, organized lesbians attack and nearly kill Joe, thinking he's Bernie. Now they're on the way to kill Bernie, with reinforcements from the National Organization for Direct Intervention Concerning Kids.

To find and warn Bernie, Joe sends his young lover, airhead Chris Christian, who gets happily sidetracked by the boys in Manila. The lesbians get sidetracked, too, as does their young helper from N.O.D.I.C.K. Bernie, meanwhile, is having amorous encounters in Manila with a variety of boys young and younger, meeting a collection of odd boy lovers from around the world and going back and forth to Mindoro.

Bernie finally finds love on a tiny island as his pursuers, both friends and assassins, draw near. Who will find him first? Will his paradise be ruined? Will he ever hear the end of stories about Mel Ott from his boy's grandfather? A storm comes up, Bernie's paradise island is rent by an earthquake and tsunami, and as expected the story ends with a tremendous climax.

"It's basically a comedy, a simple love story with a lot of jokes," explains author Freedman. "I'm not judging anyone, and really no one comes out looking great." While the story may indeed shed some light by poking into the hidden cracks of the boy-love universe, Freedman says the books' purpose "is merely to entertain, and in fact there may be more Jews than pedophiles in the book, albeit with some crossover."

This is Freedman's second novel about Bernie Boyle. The first is the boy-love classic A Natural Lizard Activity, in which Bernie and his young surfer friend Kim find drug-happy love in the world of 1970s California. A third book is planned for release by 2016.

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