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Cross Dressing Hardcover – May 30, 2000

38 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

What begins as an interesting equation of the advertising business and organized religion quickly degenerates into predictable slapstick humor in this somewhat crowded comic novel. Dan Steele, an up-and-coming creative director in a swank L.A. ad agency, is desperate to make partner. Trouble is, his manic-depressive mother, Ruth, periodically suffers bipolar episodes. Dan tries to help, but he's been living extravagantly and he's out of cash, so when lowly copywriter Scott Emmons comes up with the perfect ad campaign for a Japanese corporate client, Dan thinks it's only fair to steal Scott's idea. Scott goes postal with a .44 magnum, but before he can ventilate his sleazy superior, Dan has an unexpected visit from his long-lost twin brother, Michael, a priest back from a mission in Africa, where he witnessed Church and state corruption and tangled with a local warlord, who has left him with a terminal souvenir of his homeland. Dan switches identities with his brother so that Michael can be treated under his own health insurance, but Michael promptly dies and Dan is forced to continue his clerical impersonation to avoid felony insurance fraud. With the trappings of his former life repossessed and the maniacal Scott in pursuit, Dan finds a haven at last at a halfway house, where he meets Sister Peg, a transparently secular nun and antibureaucracy crusader. Sparks fly between the non-priest and non-nun; climax, fadeout and roll credits. Fitzhugh (Pest Control; The Organ Grinders) may have written Cross Dressing with deals in mind: according to the publisher, he even arranged with Seagram to feature their liquor products in his text. While he ably proves his comic wit on the printed page, and backs some of the novel's more informative sections with actual research, this novel is ultimately as slickly packaged and shallow as the industries it parodies. Film rights to Shady Acres/Universal Pictures and Shady Acres Entertainment. (June)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Having taken on geneticists in his earlier effortsDof which his latest was The Organ GrindersDFitzhugh turns his gimlet eye almost nostalgically to such tried-and-true satirical targets as advertising, the Catholic Church, and Los Angeles, demonstrating their staying power. Everything is finally coming together for rising advertising executive Dan Steele. His latest campaign (stolen from a colleague) is clearly considered the equal of "Where's the Beef?" Beverly is ready to lead him through the Kama Sutra, page by Technicolor page. It is then that things predictably start to unravel. His wronged colleague goes ballistic, he misses his rendezvous with Beverly, and his credit cards max out. When his twin brother, a Roman Catholic priest, returns from Africa to die, Dan happily assumes his identity only to learn that it's all a matter of image. Before his past catches up with him, it turns out that this slick operator fits almost too comfortably into the new Cat-o-Lite Church ("less guilt; more forgiveness"). Fans of other outrageous caper books, say, those by Elmore Leonard or Donald E. Westlake, might want to sample Fitzhugh. Fans of The Simpsons might keep Cross Dressing in mind during the summer rerun season. For all larger public libraries.DBob Lunn, Kansas City P.L., MO
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow; 1st edition (May 30, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0380977567
  • ISBN-13: 978-0380977567
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.1 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (38 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,187,705 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Bill Fitzhugh was born and raised in Jackson, Mississippi. He has also lived in the U.S. Virgin Islands, Seattle, Washington, and Los Angeles. He writes satiric crime novels, the occasional comic mystery, and for five years, wrote, produced and hosted "Fitzhugh's All Hand Mixed Vinyl" for the Deep Tracks channel of Sirius-XM Satellite Radio.

Two of his novels, Pest Control and Cross Dressing have been in development at Warner Brothers and Universal Studios respectively for nearly a decade. Imagine how good they'll be when they're done. Cross Dressing was nominated for the Barry Award as well as the Salt Lake County Library System's Reader's Choice Award and it won the 2002 Best Fiction award from the Mississippi Library Association.

Pest Control was one of Amazon's Top 50 Mysteries in 1997.

The Organ Grinders, which the Washington Post Book Review called, 'A laugh out loud read [and] an awe-inspiring feat' is a tender exploration of the feasibility and genetic implications of human gonad transplants, among other things. As Booklist pointed out, 'It's not easy walking the tightrope between medical thrillers a la Crichton and absurdist black comedy in the Hiaasen mold, but Fitzhugh manages it smoothly.'

One of Bill's proudest moments was when the brilliant and hysterically funny Molly Ivins wrote in one of her columns, 'Bill Fitzhugh is a seriously funny guy...The Organ Grinders is hilarious, but it can also make you gasp with horror... and the humor is completely off-the-wall.'

Reviewing his award winning novel, Fender Benders, The New York Times said, 'Fitzhugh is a strange and deadly amalgam of screenwriter and comic novelist and his facility and wit, and his taste for the perverse, put him in a league with Carl Hiaasen and Elmore Leonard.' Fender Benders won The Lefty Award for best humorous novel of 2001. Kinky Friedman himself said Fender Benders is 'Wickedly, irredeemable funny [and] wise beyond words and music. Fitzhugh has nailed the truest depiction of Nashville since Hank went to Jesus."

Fitzhugh's fifth novel was the political satire, Heart Seizure. Former Texas governor Ann Richards said 'Fitzhugh can spin a story and skewer a politician better than just about anyone I know.' As if that wasn't enough, the good folks at the Sunday Oklahoman called it, 'A wickedly outrageous satire that takes on the federal government, the media, and today's health care system with precise and scathing wit.'

Radio Activity, the first of a comic mystery series featuring classic rock deejay Rick Shannon, was published in April 2004. Jill Conner Browne, the Boss Sweet Potato Queen herownself said, 'Bill Fitzhugh is the only mystery writer I ever really loved.'

The second novel in this series, Highway 61 Resurfaced, was published in April 2005. Unable to control himself after reading it, Carl Hiaasen said, 'Bill Fitzhugh is a deeply disturbed individual who uses his warped talents to write very funny novels, the latest being Highway 61 Resurfaced. You will seriously dig this book if you like classic rock, Southern blues, clever mysteries and cats with loathsome sinus infections.'

The Exterminators, the long-awaited sequel to Pest Control was published by Poisoned Pen Press in 2012, along with a reissue of Pest Control. Carl Hiaasen calls it "Wild and clever fun."

Fitzhugh, whose books have been translated into German, Japanese, and Italian, Spanish, and Romanian lives in Los Angeles with his wife, various animals, and his record collection.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Matthew J. Mendres on June 13, 2000
Format: Hardcover
After defying the sophomore slump with the excellent "The Organ Grinders," his follow-up to the hysterical "Pest Control," Bill Fitzhugh has established a bona fide winning streak with "Cross Dressing." It's mood inhabits a middle ground between the first two books--more emotional depth than "Pest," not as intense as "Grinders"--but is no less hilarious. His characters are, as always, instantly recognizable and relatable (if that's a word), and he accurately and fairly skewers both the media and the Catholic Church (and I know from where I speak--I'm a practicing Catholic who works in the media!). If you enjoy a very funny and (this is key with Fitzhugh) very VISUAL read, by all means read this book and everything else he's written or has yet to write.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Karen Kirsch on September 1, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Pest Control was one of my favorite books....too funny. OK, now we have "Cross Dressing" as another favorite book. Brothers, church, prostitute, what a wonderful scenario. I love hysterical reads...Fitzhugh provides me with this. Laugh and love the characters. The rich vs. poor, sainted vs. slutty, moviedom vs. churchdom. Hey, I am having a wonderful time with Fitzhugh's book. It all makes for a wonderful ending.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By magellan HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWER on September 26, 2001
Format: Hardcover
This was Fitzhugh's first book, although it came out after Pest Control and Organ Grinders. That's because it was actually written as a screenplay when Bill was taking a writer's workshop in LA, I think, and he had to go back and do some rewriting to convert it into a book.
It's not quite as funny as the other two books, but then, it's still damn good as a first effort, and it shows Fitzhugh's great nascent talent which would come to full fruition in Pest Control and Organ Grinders.
Sister Peg and Dan Steele are interesting characters, and the obvious chemistry between two people who in normal life would be unlikely friends, is a nice touch. One reviewer objected to the occasional preachy passage and some off-the-cuff theologizing, but I didn't mind it. I've read a lot of theology myself, including many of the most important western writers on religion (such as Tillich, Niebuhr, Barth, Rosenzweig, Buber, Marcel, Berdyaef, and Bultmann, to give a partial list), and, notwithstanding the respect I have for the above writers, nobody can say their theology is any better than anybody else's, since there's no way to prove any of it, as much as I would like to believe otherwise.
But to get back to the book, Fitzhugh has another winner in this novel. I only give it four stars since the other two were so exceptional and deserved more like 8 stars. But if this were any other writer than Fitzhugh, it would rate five stars.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Bob A. Reiss on March 31, 2004
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Bill Fitzhugh will make fun of anything. Whether it's the smarmy world of organ transplants, the political system, industry, technology, and even pest control, and Cross Dressing isn't any different, except this time his target is slightly higher. Fitzhugh tackles another controversial subject with his satirical spanking of organized religion. Dan Steele is a bit of a jerk. He lives the life of a highly paid and successful ad exec, except he's run out of ideas. But that's not a problem when you can just steal one. Dan's twin brother is a priest, but a priest with his own problems, and they are literally eating away at him from the inside. When Dan's brother needs medical attention and is lacking medical insurance, the ethically challenge Dan has no problems switching identities. The his brother dies, and takes Dan's identity with him. Now having to take over his brother's more saintly life, which holds it's own secrets, leads Dan into the path of hitman, disgruntled former coworkers and a very attractive nun, also with secrets. Where would good fiction be without secrets?
So once again Fitzhugh handles a touchy subject with humor and disrespect. If you are highly sensitive about the reputation of the Catholic Church, this may not be you best bet. If you could look past this little problem, this is a crazy, fun book with lots of twisty, turny fun that only this master of satire can write.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By carol irvin TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on September 29, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I don't know if you will find this as hilarious as I did if you have no Catholicism in your past. However, if you do, this cross-pollinating of the Roman Catholic Church with the advertising industry was LOL funny. An ad man, on the lam from the law, is forced to pass himself off as a priest using his twin brother's clothes and job. Naturally, he brings all of his talents for media spin and hype to use against the church when it tries to close down his job site, The Care Center. This could have only been set in L.A. for maximum effect and it is. I must read Fitzhugh's earlier books now that I've read this one.

Visit my blog with link given on my profile page here or use this phonetically given URL (livingasseniors dot blogspot dot com). Friday's entry will always be weekend entertainment recs from my 5 star Amazon reviews in film, tv, books and music. These are very heavy on buried treasures and hidden gems. My blogspot is published on Monday, Wednesday & Friday.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By KatPanama on February 9, 2005
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
I'm a Bill Fitzhugh fan in general but I totally love this novel which covers quite a lot of ground. It's also one of my fave romantice novels and so deliciously bizarre. Fitzhugh has not only a distinct voice but an irrevent wit that I worship, bless his pahtooties. And, the man can write ... very well indeed. Did I say he can write? Woohoo, finest kind!
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