Todd Breech, college grad, doesn’t know what the heck to do with his life. Options include: 1) Stay in Fayetteville with born-again Christian parents and drive forklift for family business — Breech Archives, the temperature- and humidity-controlled, long-term document storage bunkers out on Route 59, or 2) Find some job wearing khaki pants at industrial park outside of Raleigh and maybe rescue lame dog from shelter, or 3) Follow heart to Denmark and live happily ever after.

Todd chooses option 3 and lands in the arms of M. H., his older, controlling boyfriend. Together the two settle in Helborg, the stringently preserved antique fishing village where M. H. has lived all his life, and where the forces necessary to keep the little town frozen in time include Communists, a sexual reassignment surgeon, a world famous excrement artist, and Todd’s mother-in-law.

For the first time in their relationship, the future is rolled out in front of them like an endless lawn of new sod. They get married—Denmark has just passed the world’s first registered partnership law. But popping up in Todd are weeds of doubts, and M. H. mysteriously begins to suffer from jolts of unbearable pain during their most intimate moments. Three days a week, Todd escapes Helborg to attend Danish classes at Copenhagen’s most rigorous language institute. In Chamber No. 2 among refugees, defectors and newlyweds, he is drilled and interrogated, and in the jittery buzz of the smoke-filled break room, he befriends Dodo, a Valium-dispensing, white Ugandan; and Corey, a black American gay divorcee.

The year is 1989. AIDS is swarming out of control, the Iron Curtain is about to collapse, and M. H. is in the sweaty grip of a midlife crisis — or worse. Todd finds himself in a hauntingly familiar and strangely comforting world, a place he cannot leave or stay. Dodo and Corey offer encouragement, confusion, drugs and bad advice as he makes a series of high-stakes escapes across the cultural landscape of Denmark.

 An expatriate's

 feverish tale

 of love and escape