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Conversations and Cosmopolitans: Awkward Moments, Mixed Drinks, and How a Mother and Son Finally Shared Who They Really Are Paperback – November 8, 2011
The Amazon Book Review
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
“Robert is snarky without being bitchy, Jane dry but not drab, and this creates a balanced and infectious humor in the book that plays nicely with the moments of poignancy that pop up time and again. Read this book, grab a drink, start a conversation about it. You might cry some, you'll probably laugh more, and you'll realize that it's really not that complicated.” ―Elle
“The voices of mother and son alternate in the brief segments of this book, advancing a story arc and commenting on one another's reflections and memories in a dialogue 'written to both entertain and enlighten in the hope that other families will begin discussion in their own homes' and discover how 'enormously empowering living in the truth can be.' Robert's coming-out letter to his parents sets the scene as he and his mother strive to interact authentically, learning about each other and learning of previously undiscovered aspects of themselves. Both are scarred from having been ostracized, he for his homosexuality, she for becoming scandalous as an unwed, pregnant high-school student. Zippy one-liners, ironic observations, and laugh-out-loud situations abound; for instance, Robert teaches his mother a gay vocabulary wholly new to her (no, Mom, B&D does not mean big and dumb). Mother-son bonding à la a progressive new Hallmark holiday movie.” ―Booklist
“Conversations and Cosmopolitans tells the story of a gay novelist's unique, seemingly-nothing-is-off-limits relationship with his mother. From Robert's manscaping adventures to Jane's experiences as a small-town pregnant teenager, Conversations tells the funny, heartfelt inside story of a relationship that became stronger after a gay son and his mother let down their guards and opened up to each other.” ―The Advocate
“As a mother of boys I hope one of them is gay so I can have this much fun with him.” ―Heather McDonald, writer and story producer for Chelsea Lately and the New York Times bestselling author of You'll Never Blue Ball in This Town Again
“A heartfelt look at a mother and son's relationship from both points of view. [L]augh-out-loud funny, touching and poignant...” ―Lance Bass, Grammy-nominated singer, former member of *NSYNC, and author of Out of Sync
“CONVERSATIONS AND COSMOPOLITANS is the most endearing, inventive memoir I've read in ages. Robert Rave and his mother Jane have managed to capture their beautiful relationship on the page, in a heartfelt, hilarious manner that never shies away from revealing awkward moments. Aside from being a charming work of literature, CONVERSATIONS AND COSMOPOLITANS is a necessary book, a book we've all been waiting for, as it deals honestly, affectionately, and originally with an experience that's central to our contemporary lives--the struggle to know and love your parents and children exactly as they are.” ―Robert Leleux, author of The Memoirs of a Beautiful Boy
“Totally delightful. A reminder of what it's like to be the new kid. If being the new kid was being gay and the new school was a hierarchy of too-fab cliques and temperamental queen bees -- pun intended. The main character is really Manhattan. And as Robert struggles to get a life in Gay New York, Jane coaches him through the rough patches with her no-nonsense maternal charm.” ―Mishna Wolff, author of I'm Down
“I loved this book, funny, honest, and moving! Who could ask for more?” ―Bryan Batt, actor on AMC's Emmy Award-winning drama "Mad Men" and author of the memoir She Ain't Heavy, She's My Mother
About the Author
JANE RAVE grew up in a small Midwest town, doing all the things you do in a small town: cheerleading, band, and church activities. She is the mother of three, grandmother of six and has been married for forty-four years. Jane lives in Illinois.
ROBERT RAVE is the author of two novels, Spin and Waxed, and currently lives in Los Angeles.
Top customer reviews
While I doubt any lesbian or gay man can possibly read this book without reflecting their own coming-out experiences, I believe the book would be equally informative and entertaining to anyone open-minded and willing to relate to either mother or son. It is well written and amusing, but with great advice for anyone facing adversity in their lives. One of my favorite of the year, thus far, and I give it five stars out of five.
- Bob Lind, Echo Magazine
A quick witted memoir that kept me reading, I enjoyed every moment.
What set this memoir apart for me was the continuous back and forth between Robert and his mother, Jane. Hearing their view points on so many moments in Roberts life was often touching and many times comical.
While the immediate subject matter may be about Robert's announcing to his mother that he is gay, this book has something every parent can take from this book. We all aspire to have loving, open relationships with our children. This family has clearly risen to that level of love.
I hope both authors are working on their next books! I will be waiting.
My disappointment quickly vanished as I read the book. It is well-written, funny, fun, and heartwarming. I enjoyed it immensely. It's not a classic or a deliverer of some great truth. It's just a story about people being themselves that made me feel good about myself as a gay man and hopeful for humanity.
The book alternates between chapters written by the subtitle-eponymous son, Robert Rave (aka Berto to his mother) and answering (or perhaps explanatory) remarks by his subtitle-eponymous mother, Jane Rave. Berto's chapters have pithy clever titles that sum up the angst of a newly out-and-proud gay man who left the quiet Midwestern life of his childhood to find himself a brand-spanking new adult life in New York City. Jane's responses are all titled "Mama Says" - and are a combination of her take on her son's new life and of bits of homespun wisdom gleaned as she and her husband strove to support their son in said new life(style).
The book is touching at times, funny at times, and a tish banal at times. Life is like that. I get it. It might be authentic, but it doesn't always make for the most interesting reading.
I have empathy for Robert's story. I have heard many a gay friend's coming-out story, and they are always tear-jerkers - whether in good ways or bad (because sometimes people surprise you nicely, although not often enough by half). Unfortunately, we still live in a world where fear and loathing are all too often components of the decision to come out. In my mind, no one should ever have to apologize for who they are; your choices are under your control, and those are what you should be held accountable for. Unfortunately, much of the world does not agree with me.
Jane's stories of her interactions with neighbors and fellow Midwesterners are, all too often, shocking to someone with my sensibilities. Her tales of defending her son and his life made me angry, sad, and regretful in turn. At times, her wit and clever retorts made me laugh out loud or even cheer for her. But at others, her homespunnishness felt like I was reading the text of a public service announcement. Again, I'm not complaining about the messages, but about the delivery. I'm fine with the former - the latter didn't always make for the most compelling story-telling style though.
The book is a soft-sell on accepting a child regardless of whether his life goes in the direction his parent's imagined or would have chosen. That is a positive message and one I would never disrespect. The book displays occasional flashes of brilliance, usually through Robert's stories of life as a regular guy in the oft-glamorous (or at least glam-wannabe) world of the NYC gay community (NB: is there really "a" gay community, in NYC or anywhere? Isn't the assumption that there is "one" gay community in NYC - or anywhere - a stereotype in itself? No one talks about "the" straight community... but I digress), but also occasionally through Jane's startlingly unselfconscious examinations of her own life and her interactions with her son and his friends. These bursts don't happen anywhere near often enough to my taste, but when they do they are great fun.
Overall the book reads more like a self-help guide for the unsuspecting families of gay children than a memoir. That's not my cup of tea (or martini glass of cosmo) but that doesn't mean it's not still a valid beverage choice. Or maybe I should say valid beverage genetic predisposition. ;)