It's All Relative: Two Families, Three Dogs, 34 Holidays, and 50 Boxes of Wine (A Memoir) Hardcover – Feb 1 2011
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"Damn you, Wade!! Damn you! I missed two ebay auctions and delayed taking my Ambien every night for a week so I could finish It's All Relative, but it was so worth it. This book rocks! Charming, funny and saucy enough to make me blush. Wade's family makes mine look like the Kennedys (the ones not driving around on sleeping pills or the ones charged with felonies)."—Laurie Notaro, bestselling author of We Thought You Would be Prettier
"Wade Rouse is back and better than ever in his new memoir It's All Relative. Rouse's books combine the one-two punch of hilarity and heart and never cease to delight. Filled with uproarious one liners and enough soul to truly satisfy, readers are going to clamor for a seat at Rouse's holiday table! I can't tell you how much I loved this book."—Jen Lancaster, New York Times bestselling author of My Fair Lazy
"Wade Rouse has officially become the laugh assassin. And with his holiday masterpiece, It’s All Relative, he's getting downright dangerous, delivering even more laughs than usual. Rouse's remembrances of his family holidays are masterfully gift-wrapped in delightful dysfunction and topped with a bow of laser-sharp sentimental insight designed to help you not only laugh at but also fall in love again with your own jacked-up gene pool. This book is the gift that keeps on giving."—Josh Kilmer-Purcell, star of the hit reality series, The Fabulous Beekman Boys and New York Times bestselling author of The Bucolic Plague and I Am Not Myself These Days
About the Author
WADE ROUSE is the critically acclaimed author ofthe memoirs America’s Boy, Confessions of a Prep School Mommy Handler, and At Least in the City Someone Would Hear Me Scream and editor of the upcoming humorous dog anthology I’m Not the Biggest Bitch in This Relationship! He is a humor columnist for Metrosource magazine. Rouse lives outside Saugatuck, Michigan, with his partner, Gary, and their mutts, Marge and Mabel. He is available for select readings
and lectures. To inquire about a possible appearance, please contact the Random House Speakers Bureau at
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In his fourth book, Wade tackles family life and holidays and brings out the best in his dysfunctional and eccentric relatives. We all have them, right? Wade says that "Family is the gift that keeps on giving, no matter how much we wish they would stop."
All of the holidays throughout the year are represented, even Swedish Day and a Pez Collector's National Convention. My favorite is an essay where Wade and Gary meet up with a neighbor from hell and begin to fight over relationships and appropriate anniversary presents. Then, Wade tries to buy a new Honda Pilot from someone, who smells like Paloma Picasso, because it happens to be a "steel" (11th) anniversary in "So, a Gift Card to Trader Joe's Isn't Romantic?" His self-depreciating humor is priceless!
Wade Rouse is the critically acclaimed author of three memoirs, America's Boy, At Least in the City Someone Would Hear Me Scream, and Confessions of a Prep School Mommy Handler. He is a journalist and essayist whose articles have appeared in numerous regional and national publications. He contributed to the humorous essay collection about working in the retail industry, The Customer Is Always Wrong: The Retail Chronicles. This book was featured prominently on NPR and in The Wall Street Journal and includes pieces from other noted authors. He also taught a writing class to humorists at the Erma Bombeck Writers' Workshop 2010. I attended his class and was amazed at his ability to get people to write about fear. I'm not talking Freddy Krueger or Michael Moore movies here, where people get chopped up or the government confiscates your first born child on celluloid; I'm talking the real deal. As a humorist, Wade believes that humor writers need to first write about and get rid of fear and inhibitions, find your "inner voice," then get funny.
He was sneaky about it too. "What are you afraid of?" he asked, smiling. "Okay, now write that down."
The class thinking it was a private exercise that we needed to do for ourselves, spilled our guts for 20 minutes on paper, hoping to burn it before ditching it somewhere near the University of Dayton's incinerator.
So, what happens? Professor Rouse makes us read it out loud to the whole class! I coughed, and my inner voice squeaked "I have to go to the bathroom." It was very similar to a Kathy Bates scene in "Fried Green Tomatoes." You remember the one, before she became Towanda.
The Washington Post describes Wade as "An original writer and impressive new voice." I can describe him as fascinating, funny, and talented. He has a great gift. You absolutely need to put this book on your "must read" list.
Wade is a graduate of Drury University and has a master's from Northwestern's Medill School of Journalism. He lives near the coast of Lake Michigan with his partner, Gary, and their beloved mutts, Marge and Mable.
It's All Relative: Two Families, Three Dogs, 34 Holidays, and 50 Boxes of Wine (A Memoir)America's BoyConfessions of a Prep School Mommy Handler: A MemoirAt Least in the City Someone Would Hear Me Scream: Misadventures in Search of the Simple Life
I especially loved the "Christmas" brag letter Wade wrote after receiving such a letter from a good friend. Of course he never mails it because everyone would be mad.
Why is it that we all want to brag about everything we've done (some we probably haven't but say we have anyway) and that without the accomplishments of our children, we have no self worth.
Maybe we all need therapists. In this case, reading Rouse is the best therapy and it is much less costly than the $150.00 per session should you pick a great therapist!
It is just this craziness that Wade Rouse highlights in his latest memoir, a simultaneously hilarious and poignant remembrance of year-round holidays past and present. Navigating the stormy seas of dealing with individual quirks and compulsions, Wade tells about holiday trips to the homes of his Ozark parents and that of his partner, Gary's, yard sale-obsessed family, Halloween costumes he'll never forget (but would prefer to do so), and a passion for gardening that allowed Gary to bond with Wade's mom in a way he never could. There are amusing stories of parties planned, shopping at "Homo Depot" and why he learned to play the trombone. But there are also heartfelt stories of his relationship with his grandmother, his father's heart attack, and visit to his mother in a nursing facility.
It is extremely rare for me to go back and read parts of a book a second time, but I did immediately after finishing this one. I simply didn't want it to end! The individual stories - really 34 diverse vignettes set during different holiday times of the year - are so well-written, engaging and entertaining, that you too will want to savor each one like courses of a fulfilling feast. Anyone who had read any of Rouse's previous books knows his dry, un-PC humor, which is at its best yet in this, his fourth book. Don't miss this one! Five bold stars out of five!
- Bob Lind, Echo Magazine
Constructed on the scaffolding of a year of holidays (all the traditional ones, with a few of the more obscure, like Arbor Day, "Swedish Day" and even a visit to the Pez Collectors Convention thrown into the mix), IT'S ALL RELATIVE swings between contemporary stories and recollections of Rouse's often painful childhood, growing up as an overweight, gay young man in a small Ozarks town.
In this volume, Gary has morphed from a salesman into an innkeeper. "If Martha Stewart were to have a full-body electrolysis, breast deconstruction, a penis implant, and well, basically just go whole hog and transgender into a man, she would be Gary," Rouse writes. Gary is the kindhearted, generous member of the couple, Mother Teresa to Rouse's Charlie Sheen, who believes that "Sarcasm, like a good tan, could cover any defect." They spar over parties (Rouse's "Blue Christmas" meal is an epic flop), peonies, yard sales and helping the homeless, and yet Rouse renders these rough edges smooth to expose the inescapable truth that in many marriages (there is no other way to describe their relationship, prevented only by law from receiving official sanction), even the most ill-matched couple can find enduring happiness.
Rouse's parents are a frequent target of his humor. His father, an engineer and a staunch conservative Republican, is so maddeningly tightfisted that he would "open his checkbook and stare at it as if it was a crystal ball, waiting for a sign only he could interpret that would grant him the go-ahead to spend the cash." Yet in a chapter mocking his "Ozarks-ese," a dialect Rouse describes as "like country rap, Nelly meets Paula Deen," he uses the story of his father's heart attack and his mother's mingled anger and dread to sketch the blend of love and combat that marks many an enduring marriage.
A patient and devoted hospice nurse, Rouse's mother is the subject of some of his tenderest reminiscences. In his piece on an adult Memorial Day, she fiercely explains why she lavishes care on his grandmother, living her final days in a nursing home. "It's not an obligation, Wade," she tells him. "It's a privilege." The book's concluding piece is an emotionally resonant account of his non-Jewish mother's last wish --- in the midst of chemotherapy for lung cancer --- to visit Jerusalem's Wailing Wall.
As a reviewer, I didn't have the luxury of reading Rouse's book as the calendar rolled from one month to the next, though it feels as if he intended it as that sort of companion. Pull it off the shelf at Halloween to read the cringe-inducing story of the time his mother dressed him as a "Ubangi tribesman," or start the spring with the story of his disastrous stab at Little League baseball, inspired by his mother's penchant for exaggerating family accomplishments.
But Rouse saves some of his sharpest wit for the dreaded "Christmas letter," that nightmare of self-promotion and self-delusion that often serves merely to exaggerate our tiny achievements and gloss over our shortcomings. Chiding one of his correspondents after a disastrous encounter in a supermarket aisle, he uses that experience to highlight one of the central themes of his memoir, the "inability to hide from the one big fact that unites us all: We're human. We all occasionally wet ourselves. No one is really better than anyone else. We're all just trying to make it through the year as best we can. We screw up sometimes. We succeed sometimes. We laugh. We cry. We go on."
We laugh and cry along with Wade Rouse as we recall our own family moments, happy or grim, transcendent or mundane. In a matchless comic voice, tempered by real humanity, he reminds us that our lives, for better or worse, are inescapably rooted in family.
--- Reviewed by Harvey Freedenberg
"It's All Relative" is a loving tribute to our family beginnings and how they shape us. It is also a compliment for his partner Gary, who is wickedly funny in his own right. Whether you are straight or gay, if you find someone who loves you in spite of all your faults and accepts you for who you are, then you have found something and someone very special to be proud of and a relationship to nurture.
Wade Rouse's writing style is clear and brimming with wit and humor. He knows he is blessed and fortunate even as he teases his family or partner. Overall, there are moments in the memoir when you really want to slap the man upside the head, but he is completely honest and accountable for his behavior. There are also many touching instances as he realizes the importance of family and how special they are in their own right. It is a good read, but like any intimate personal disclosure(het or gay)there may be a certain level of discomfort for some people. It isn't extraneous or intended to shock...the man is just being his gregarious and hilarious self.
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