No kidding: TV writer pens serious young adult novel

Justin Sayre will read from his young adult novel “Husky” at Powerhouse Arena on Sept. 26.

He’s getting heavy.

A gay writer and performer known for his flamboyant and explicit monologues will showcase a different side this weekend, when he launches his down-to-earth young adult novel about a Park Slope preteen. The author says that the coming-of-age tale is a deliberately bare-bones account of the labors of adolescence.

“In a very conscious way, I didn’t want to write a big book,” said Justin Sayre, who will discuss his book “Husky” at Dumbo’s Powerhouse Arena on Sept. 26. “There are no dragons, he doesn’t have magical powers — he’s just a kid experiencing life as you do in that tender age.”

Sayre, best known to New Yorkers as the creator of the comedic variety show “The Meeting of the International Order of Sodomites,” now lives in Los Angeles and writes for the CBS sitcom “2 Broke Girls,” but he called Park Slope home for five years, and spent another two years living in a gay commune in Bushwick. His Brooklyn experience was a jumping-off point for the new novel, he says.

“I wanted it to be about Brooklyn,” he said. “I wanted it to be partially about the life I knew there.”

The book is narrated by twelve-year-old Davis, an opera-loving kid who fears he will be haunted by the adjective his peers have stuck him with: husky. Davis tries to reconcile his self-image with the way other people see him, while trying to figure out how to express his identity.

The character is not yet quite aware of his sexual orientation, said Sayre, which sets the novel apart from the wealth of coming-out stories in young adult fiction.

“The thing about gayness in this book is, I wrote him as a gay person but I didn’t write him actively being gay,” said Sayre. “He doesn’t come out, but his view on the world is a queer view.”

The first in an ongoing series, “Husky” may be a novel about a gay Park Slope kid who loves opera written by a gay, ex-Park Slope writer who loves jazz, but Sayre says the book is not a thinly-disguised memoir. Davis is very much his own person, said Sayre, and the book is better for it.

“Once I really found his voice and found out who he was, I liked him better than I would have liked a story written solely from my perspective,” he said.

“Husky” Book Launch at powerHouse Arena [37 Main St. between Water and Front streets, (718) 666-3049, www.powerhousearena.com]. Sept. 26 at 6 pm. Free.

Reach reporter Allegra Hobbs at ahobbs@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–8312.
Plot twist: Gay writer and performer Justin Sayre wrote his first novel, “Husky,” about a Park Slope preteen on the cusp of uncovering his sexual identity — but it is no coming-out novel.

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