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The Memoirs of a Beautiful Boy Paperback – January 6, 2009

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Teacher, freelance writer and first-time author Leleux proves he's already a master of the snappy one-liner and the improbably hilarious in this rollicking, bitter-sweet (emphasis on the bitter) coming-of-age memoir. Featuring a larger-than life mother addicted to shopping and surgical makeovers, Leleux admits to having "tilted" the story so that it "reads better (as in funnier, or happier) than it was lived"; still, it's a rocky trip that obviously required a highly evolved sense of humor to get through (fortunately, Leleux makes himself as big a target as his extravagant mother). Beginning with his father's abandonment when Leleux was 17, the author traces the erratic aftermath in the home of his desperate mom, whose plan to remarry rich leads her to pursue a risky and exorbitant series of surgical enhancements, turning inside-out Leleux's hope that "the end of marriage would be only the beginning of plastic surgery and happy new lives." In the meantime, Robert meets and unexpectedly falls in love with Michael Leleux, learning for the first time that he's gay and, further, that his mom has already known. Not for the timid, this laugh-out-loud tale of dysfunction and discovery is a compulsively readable treat; any fan of Augusten Burroughs or David Sedaris owes it to themselves to pick it up.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


“Winning…sprightly…head tossing, high-strung comedy.” ―The New York Times

“Utterly beguiling…witty, irreverent, a romp on paper.” ―The Philadelphia Inquirer

“Wonderful―tender, funny, and intelligent.” ―The Houston Press

“Wickedly funny and tender…ridiculously tasty.” ―The Seattle Times

“For the reader, at least, she will be forever memorable, uniquely, wonderfully, weirdly herself--Jessica Wilson, the mother of a beautiful boy. This hilarious, heartbreaking memoir is a pure joyride for the reader.” ―Times-Picayune (New Orleans)

“[Leleux] displays a nice self-effacing wit, a talent for constructing funny scenes, and a genuinely sweet spirit that engages the reader's sympathy.” ―Booklist

“positive, witty tone” ―Connecticut Post

“a charming account” ―Just Out

“[Leleux's] funny, but poignant tale of growing up gay with a narcissistic, but lovable and witty mother in Petunia, east Texas, is the new must-read... pitch-perfect sentences that are both heartbreaking and laugh out loud funny” ―Washington Blade

“well-wrought... a sweet guy, and he has a nice way with an anecdote.” ―Austin American-Statesman (Texas)

“wittily written, entertaining...refreshingly clear-eyed.” ―Salem Press


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin; 1 Reprint edition (January 6, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312361696
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312361693
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.7 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,270,477 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author


Thank you for visiting my Amazon page. For those of you who don't know, I'm a freelance writer and editor, and the author of two books. My latest, The Living End, a memoir about my beloved grandmother's journey through Alzheimer's, will be published by St. Martin's Press this January 17th. Though it's a difficult and painful topic, I'm excited to share my family's story. For us, forgiving and forgetting were more than usually intertwined.

My first book, The Memoirs of a Beautiful Boy, also published by St. Martin's Press, was a very different story. It gave me the chance to tour the country, meeting fabulous people from every corner of the US. It was great fun and I'm excited to announce that I'll be taking my show on the road again at the start of 2012! Tour dates are being finalized now, so please check back soon.

Now, when I'm not writing books, I'm also the features editor of Lonny Magazine, one of the greatest shelter magazines in the industry. And I also write the Tex in the City column for the Texas Observer, one of the best independent news sources in the Southwest. It's an honor to
write for them, and it, too has offered me the chance to meet amazing people.

So, let's see, what else can I tell you about myself? I live on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, with my gorgeous husband Michael. I consider myself lucky to have such a happy life!

XOXO, Robert​

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By David Lantry on January 15, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I like to read debut books, so when I came across this one, I was intrigued. A gay boy in Texas abandoned by his Mother who is hell bent on snaggin' her a rich man. Daddy abandoned Mama & Mama's Boy one day while they were at Neiman Marcus having their hair done. They come back to the ranch (litterally) to discover that rich Daddy has taken off and left them penniless. Havoc wreaks. Mother looks like a cross between the Cuban T.V. host "Christina" and a Drag Queen- granted, a very well put together and handsomely coiffed drag queen- but let's call a shovel a shovel.
Meanwhile, her teen-aged drama princess of a gay son is left to fend basically on his own. Miraculously, he discovers musical theatre, meets the love of his life, escapes small town bigotry and ends up at Sarah Lawrence. Phew! That's a lot of memoir in less than 200 pages. I will give praise for Mr. Leleux nee' O'Doole's writing style- it is very good. Clearly the folks at Sarah L. taught him a thing or two about a thing or two. The story is angst-filled and chock-full-o-drama, pratfalls and very witty repartee. At one point I thought to myself, "What if 'Gone With The Wind' were set in the 1990s in Texas, and Scarlett was a gay teenaged boy?" Think "The Divine Secrets of The Ya-Ya Sisterhood" meets "Mommie Dearest" with a splash of "Auntie Mame" thrown in for flavor. Our little Sissy Mary does grow up, has an amazing support system about him and heads for the big city to make it after all. I liked that the central character actually figured out how to get what he wanted tempered with what he actually needed. I liked that he takes the reader along for the ride through out his ordeals. The best example of this drive is the Civics class story where the author is one class away from a high scholl diploma.
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21 of 26 people found the following review helpful By NE Reader on June 21, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Unfortunately, I gave this book as a gift before I read it myself, based on a glowing review in The New York Times. Boy, was I wrong on this one. This is the worst example of what has become a growing trend of precocious gay boy memoirs that began with David Sedaris's essays, flourished with Augusten Burrough's book-length works Running with Scissors and Dry, turned amusing with Josh Kilmer-Purcell's I Am Not Myself These Days, and now thuds to ground with this entry. Someone should slap awake the editor at St. Martin's Press who acquired this memoir because the characters are vapid and the plot -- about a young gay man who feels abandoned by his father when he divorces his mother and seeks restitution and reconciliation in the form of money for college -- is too vengeful to be a positive role model for other gay teenagers. In fact, it's hard for me to be sympathetic at all towards Leleux because he writes about wanting to drop out of high school and avoid college when things don't go his way because his father won't pay his tuition. Leleux tries to be humorous and witty, but his character in the book comes off as a spoiled, bitter, know-it-all with a mean sense of entitlement. David Sedaris, in his essays, is something of a detached journalist, even as he is describing his own foibles. Burroughs becomes sympathetic because he writes as a confused young man and sketches out the plausible scenario that his parents might be clinically or mentally unstable. And Kilmer-Purcell has an outrageous drag queen story to tell. In this memoir, the young Leleux comes off as arrogant, conceited, and self-centered. You never feel any warmth from him or for him, and even on the rare occasion he has something sorta nice to about someone else, you feel he is saying it more about himself. Leleux is not Capote. Never will be. He's too shallow. For full disclosure, however, my friend who received this book from me as a gift liked it. In fact, he read it twice. Go figure.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Chuck Gorman on May 25, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Am I missing something here? His gaydom is almost a stereotype (getting his hair done and eating cucumber sandwiches with the ladies at Neiman Marcus every Saturday). His parents divorce when he is 16...not 4 or 5..16! Get a job and stop whining. Every person in the world is now capable of writing a memoir. Boring
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Jon Hunt on February 6, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Reading Robert Leleux's first novel, "The Memoirs of a Beautiful Boy" is such a joy that one almost wants to visit Texas....well, visit, but not live there, maybe. His breezy style and cast of offbeat characters is as warm as his home state, with enough aromas to want more. It is terrific.

Leleux, whose book centers around his mother and his partner, accomplishes what many writers, especially young ones, fail to do. He keeps the focus largely on his family and friends, while allowing himself to remain just close enough for inclusion. Leleux has a penchant for creating sentences that start with a fact, add a comment and take another turn for a reaction to the comment. What the reader has, in the final analysis, is a book that shines. His humor radiates throughout and reading this in one sitting is very much suggested.

Like some novels, there are a few too many characters to muddy the waters without adding much heft to the story and if I had one criticism of this book, it would be that. But that's small potatoes compared to an otherwise brilliant endeavor on the part of Robert Leleux. I highly recommend "The Memoirs of a Beautiful Boy" and hope he has another book in the works.
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