How to Give Your Mother a Hangover
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A mother and son recount the latter’s coming out with humor and aplomb.

Los Angeles resident Robert Rave teams up with his Midwest-native mother, Jane, to share their “perceptions and misconceptions of what it’s like to be gay and to have a gay child.” Using bits of their correspondence, phone conversations and reminiscences, each tells his and her version of the same event, producing an account akin to the humorous shtick between Joan and Melissa Rivers. While occasionally making for a disjointed read, these parallel monologues also prove to be the collection’s unique strength, in that together they enable readers to witness what happens to both child and parent when one son reveals his homosexuality. The significant effects of such revelations aren’t often presented from multiple perspectives, and both Raves resort to engaging sarcasm when it comes to the subject of Robert’s new lifestyle. It all begins with the gushing coming-out letter that 21-year-old Robert mails to his parents. What Robert considers his “great literary feat,” a “message of honesty and love,” Jane simply refers to as “the gay letter.” Months later, after learning that Robert was ditched by his first love interest, Jane attempts to console him by sending a pick-me-up collection of inspirationally captioned pictures of animals–“in ‘wacky’ poses,” recalls Robert, “positioned so unnaturally that I seriously thought about calling PETA.” Jane then explains the rationale behind her well-meaning gift of “a book about how even whales, dogs, and cats always end up with someone in the end. I wanted to show him that even a whale could find a mate…Several angry phone calls later, I realized that maybe this wasn’t the best choice of books to cheer him up.”

A wise and witty display of one relationship’s hits and misses.

Pub Date: Sept. 14th, 2006
ISBN: 0-595-39736-0
Program: Kirkus Indie
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