Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Dysfunctional Relationships and Bedlam!

If you love to laugh, you need to read “It’s All Relative Two Families, Three Dogs, 34 Holidays, and 50 Boxes of Wine (A Memoir)” by Wade Rouse. It was released on February 1st by Crown Publishing Group, a division of Random House, Inc. It is a compilation of hilarious essays that will have you ROTFYAO.

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 other 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 their “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.

You can contact Wade and learn more about his books via his website, www.waderouse.com. Tell him Rosie sent you.

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