Books by Robert Rodi

Released: June 21, 2011

"A lighthearted account, a touch snobbish at times, but entertaining and funny. "
An American writer from Chicago falls in love with what he sees as an ideal society in the Bruco contrada, an ancient subdivision of Siena, Italy, and strives mightily to become accepted into it. Read full book review >
WHEN YOU WERE ME by Robert Rodi
Released: June 1, 2007

"Amiable diversion, more Freaky Friday than Dorian Gray."
Wealthy middle-aged gay man depressed over his lost youth takes supernatural measures to swap bodies with a penniless young stud. Read full book review >
BITCH GODDESS by Robert Rodi
Released: March 1, 2001

"Well-written bitchery, but it's all so-o-o Dynasty and so dated."
Has-been sex symbol tells all—well, not quite all—in this latest from the author of Drag Queen (1995). Read full book review >
KEPT BOY by Robert Rodi
Released: Nov. 25, 1996

Rodi (Drag Queen, 1995, etc.) takes a shot a being the gay Moliäre and succeeds in pulling off a smart, funny, and terrifically entertaining farce. Dennis Racine, 31, is the title's kept boy, the constant companion, since he was 15, of Farleigh Nock, 63, a wealthy theatrical producer in Chicago. Dennis is pretty self-satisfied, though vaguely wary of loosing his hunky good looks. Living with Farleigh in the producer's large house, sharing space with Farleigh's former kept boy (a queenish Greek named Christos, who does the cooking) and spending Farleigh's endless supply of money, Dennis gets understandably worried when his master turns suddenly cool and distracted. Dennis is late to assume the worst, but when he finally gets a clue, it becomes swiftly apparent that he has a rival for Farleigh's largesse: Jasper Moran, a pool boy whom Farleigh has taken a shine to, going so far as to make him the director of a new staging of an Oscar Wilde play. After several strategies for winning back Farleigh's good graces fail miserably, Dennis conspires with his gigolo brain trust, who urge him to spirit Farleigh away to Greece, thereby freeing him from Jasper's youthful clutches. The farcical quality of the story really takes over once the cast is relocated to the Aegean: Christos begins to act almost butch; a couple of American girls (including Jasper's old girlfriend) join the party—and Jasper shows up. What follows is a zany pilgrimage to the home of Jasper's Greek grandmother, who has violently little patience for fags, and further scheming from Dennis to sour Farleigh on Jasper. What happens after a desperate Dennis decides to seduce Jasper is predictable enough, but it in no way diminishes Rodi's high-speed, at times hilarious tale. Read full book review >
DRAG QUEEN by Robert Rodi
Released: Nov. 20, 1995

Another plateful of giddy meringue from Rodi (What They Did to Princess Paragon, 1994, etc.), the undisputed doyen of the effervescent gay novel of manners. In fact, this whole ribald affair in the guise of a novel turns on questions of etiquette, notably for Mitchell Sayer, a buttoned-up Chicago attorney who's been at least superficially accepted at his prestigious firm. The fey Mitchell appreciates life's fineries—the better to indulge his obsessions with order and success—but, still, he has trouble at work, where a barracuda female associate is gunning for his head. Things really begin to fall apart, though, when Mitchell's society-dame mother reveals for the first time that he's adopted and has a long-lost identical twin, Donald Sweet, also living in Chicago. Unbeknownst to Mitchell, Donald has been living a completely unsecret life as a gloomy cabaret drag act called Kitten Kaboodle. Mitchell has trouble accepting such news, of course, and Rodi thereby sets up the first in a series of wildly cloying symmetries: Mitchell is gay and accepted but can't accept his equally gay but radically less conservative kin; Mitchell has an aggressive yuppie lawyer after his job; Kitten has a vastly less-talented fellow drag actor (younger, of course) after the coveted club spot. The story is briefly sidetracked by the appearance of Zack Crespin, who takes a shine to Kitten (``a chick with a dick''), and by Mitchell's foray into a raunchy sexcapade. Still repulsed by his brother's choices, Mitchell contracts a team of ``deprogrammers'' to straighten him out, but they accidentally kidnap Zoe, Mitchell's rival in the firm. Predictably, it'll be Donald/Kitten to the rescue. The plot's flighty and incoherent, but when it congeals, the humor is merciless and swift. Read full book review >
Released: May 16, 1994

Rodi (Closet Case, 1993), the '90s answer to Armistead Maupin and his Tales of the City, provides more frothy entertainment, but his formula is wearing thin. Brian Parrish is a comic-book artist and writer who eagerly accepts the chance to work for Bang, a company that is revitalizing its old superheroes through controversy. His choice to remake Princess Paragon—a wondrous woman who originally came to earth from another planet to battle the evil forces of Hitler and Mussolini—into a lesbian irks many fans, but also draws the attention that chain-smoking Bang publisher Heloise Freitag needs to keep her company afloat. When rabid comic-book aficionado Jerome T. Kornacker, who has considered Princess Paragon his quasi- girlfriend for years, hears of Parrish's plans for his sweetheart, he first writes angry letters, then attends a comic-book convention in order to confront Parrish and force him to change direction. As usual, plot organization is Rodi's strongest skill: Even minor characters have specific problems, and the outcome of those affects the struggle between Parrish and Kornacker. On the repetitive side, this is the third of Rodi's three novels to involve an unforced kidnapping. Characterization is weak, and many attempts at satire fall closer to stereotyping. Kornacker is an overweight loser who lives with his shrewish mother and wears polyester pants; he is such a nonentity that a machine is about to replace him in his job as warehouse night watchman. Perpetrial Cotton, an African-American feminist lesbian hired to edit Parrish's work, is drowning in her own exaggerated attempts at political correctness and urges Parrish to redraw Princess Paragon so that she looks less like Heather Locklear and more like ``a young Vanessa Redgrave.'' A competent and often funny storyteller in need of fresh material. Read full book review >
CLOSET CASE by Robert Rodi
Released: May 6, 1993

Clever, lightweight entertainment from the author of Fag Hag (1992—not reviewed): a broad farce about a Chicago account- executive at an ad agency populated by homophobes who lives through a series of embarrassing misadventures—before screaming out his sexual preference to the world. Lionel Frank is a nervous Nellie who pretends by day to be one of the macho boys but at night frequents dance bars and yearns for a male lover. Fortunately, he thinks, the art director at the agency is a lesbian, thereby directing homophobic attention away from him, but she also happens to frequent the same dance club he does, and sees him panting over a nude dancer's equipment. Lionel at one point gets thrown into jail when he's caught in the middle of a Slavic demonstration, where he meets Emil, a straight medical student he longs for. Mostly, though, he bounces around town either alone or in the company of neighbor and confidante Yolanda—until the whole group is sent packing for a weekend together at the Wild Rose, a resort in Wisconsin. Lionel has a wonderful night with David, the owner's son who is leaving the priesthood (Rodi, at the Wild Rose as elsewhere, takes all the easy potshots, especially at the men's movement). Meanwhile, Bob, Yolanda's on-again off-again lover, turns up at the resort with a spear and beats up Lionel before kidnapping him. Finally, though, having had enough of disguises and duplicity, Lionel rises from the lake like a fish and screams out: ``I'M GAY! I'M GAY! I'M GAY! I'M GAAAY!'' In an epilogue, we learn that he's a happy soul, so outfront he even announces to a Chicago cabbie that he's on his way to meet his male lover. Rodi's caricature of office politics is a hoot—but the comedy here is so one-sided and broad that it often misses its target. Read full book review >