Part Augusten Burroughs, part Robert Leleux, Conversations and Cosmopolitans is a hilarious and touching memoir written by a mother, Jane, and her son, Robert, as they navigate their new relationship together after Robert announces in a hand-written letter that he is gay.
A touching, corny mother-and-son give-and-take on dealing with one's coming out as a young gay man offers some useful tips for maintaining a healthy, open relationship. In alternating sections, Robert Rave, a former PR associate and current L.A.-based author of two novels (Spin), and his mother, Jane Rave, a housewife and grandmother living in Illinois, manage the fallout from Robert's coming-out letter written as a 21-year-old college graduate newly arrived in New York City. Jane admits she was clueless and shocked by the news, though her husband, Robert's dad, replied graciously, "At the end of the day, does it really matter? He's our son." While Robert was navigating the rocky shoals of trying to establish himself as a low-paid PR assistant in New York and find a partner despite shallow friends and a less than perfect body, his mom suppressed her fear of her son's ending up alone and being preyed upon in the big bad city. The two also came to a poignant understanding of each other via daily calls. Fending off mean-spirited "sympathy" from former acquaintances and narrow-minded criticism from a hairdresser, Jane was reminded of her own ostracism as a pregnant teenager who was barred from finishing high school. Mostly, Robert chronicles in mildly titillating fashion his evolving vocabulary of gay terms meant to enlighten his dear old mom, along with dismal tales of Internet dating, while Jane's responses, though well-meaning, don't have a voice distinct from her son's.