Hothouse recollections of growing up gay.
Now 27 and a creative-writing teacher in the New York City public schools, the author was reared in Petunia, Texas. Abandoned by his father on the family ranch with just a Jaguar convertible for transportation, Mother took young Robert to Nieman Marcus in nearby Houston every Saturday to get their hair and nails styled. Mother, a unique personality as her son remembers her, was more luridly glitzy than Mame and more maliciously avaricious. (Her favorite movie: Breakfast at Tiffany’s.) Early on, young Robert displayed a heightened sensitivity superior to those of his drab neighbors in their dreary houses. He made clever comments regarding gents in tacky sans-a-belt pants. He was partial to Liza Minnelli, Dina Merrill and—though he was surely prettier—Lillian Hellman. Clearly, here was the next Capote. Despite those Neiman Marcus Saturdays, his gay leanings were apparently unknown to Robert until, at 17 and still in high school, he met dancer Michael, the love of his life. (The couple now lives in New York). The author’s slightly histrionic recollections contain over-the-top set pieces regarding his evangelical school, Mother’s hair treatment (she winds up with a cheap wig glued to her bald head) and her impromptu boob and lip augmentations. The text is lush with simile, verdant with metaphor and generally permeated with writerly flair. Though the author calls it a memoir, it reads more like a comic novel with considerable theatrical panache. Addressing his readers as “mes petites,” the beautiful boy frequently seems to speak to a special audience.