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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

4.7 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews

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Textbook Amy Krouse Rosenthal
Textbook Amy Krouse Rosenthal
The bestselling author of "Encyclopedia an Ordinary Life" returns with a literary experience that is unprecedented, unforgettable, and explosively human. Hardcover | Kindle book
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Editorial Reviews

Review

“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.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin; Original edition (November 8, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312554230
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312554231
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.7 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,488,536 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Newly moved from his Midwest home to New York City, 21 year old Robert Rave first took care of some long-unfinished business: writing a "coming out" letter home to his parents. His mother's response to that letter and subsequent conversations between the two of them - as Robert negotiates the exciting yet unfamiliar territory of becoming a gay Manhattanite - are the basis for this outstanding memoir that traces how the two became closer and more attuned to each other's feelings and needs. The book consists of brief narratives by Robert, followed by "Mama Says" commentaries by Jane, as Robert deals with issues such as dating, body image, gay lingo, homophobia, being trendy but not pretentious, internet hookups, going to a therapist, and even "manscaping," each with its share of disappointments and lessons learned, but reinforced by an obvious shared sense of humor that keeps them both optimistic for the future. The conversations continue with Robert's trips home to Indiana, as well as Jane's numerous trips to visit him in Manhattan, including one in which her "tell it like it is" approach embarrassed Robert but endeared her to another group of gay men.

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
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I was excited for the book to be released after voraciously reading Robert's first two novels. His latest book does not disappoint!
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.
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Format: Paperback
This was a light read with great points of view from both mother and son when the author told his family he is gay. We could all only wish that all families would be as understanding, excepting and loving as this beautiful family. Very uplifting, touching and entertaining. A great read!
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
When I found that my gay book club was reading this book, I was disappointed. It was hard to find in the local libraries, usually a bad sign; and we had recently read some books by gay authors that were pretty lame.

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.
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Format: Paperback
What a fabulous title - after all, who among us doesn't enjoy conversations and cosmopolitans, especially together? The book is subtitled: "Awkward moments, mixed drinks, and how a mother and son finally shared who they really are" - and believe me, it's an apt description.

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.
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Format: Paperback
If the burden of keeping a secret was no longer something you could handle and the one person you had to tell was not only your best friend but your mother as well, would you tell her? What if this secret could potentially change the entire dynamic of your relationship? For Robert, as well as a number of people, this is a reality but fortunately for him he has the love and support of a wonderful mother & friend.

Truth be told I'm a huge fan of Robert Rave and his Chick Lit novels, but I may have a conflict now...I think I may be a bigger fan of his mom. In a world where acceptance and reactions are still mixed toward gays I can only imagine how difficult it would be not only for the individual sharing the news with their loved ones but also for the loved ones themselves. What I've learned in my short time as a parent is that children are who they are and as a parent your biggest responsibility, over any other even more so than feeding & clothing, is to love them unconditionally and let them know that every day of their lives. (That's just my two cents.) Jane Rave is an incredible example of this. When Robert came-out to her and his father in the hand written letter he sent, her reaction was immediately for him in regards to his long term happiness. It wasn't negative by any means, she simply wanted him to be happy and afforded all the opportunities we all deserve as human beings. Knowing her son the way she did, she was sure he'd be distraught about their reaction and wanted to do whatever she could to assure him they loved him and would never judge him immediately and without question.

What was truly enjoyable about this memoir, outside of the connection between Robert and his mom Jane, was the varying versions of situations through each of their eyes.
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