Michael Barnard, Rakestraw Books, Danville, Calif.
Readers of the memoir have seen it all over the past few years: alcoholism, sexual abuse, eating disorders, narcissistic parents. Into this crowded exercise in mass therapy screams comes Robert Leleux's account of the years following the break-up of his parents' marriage, Memoirs of a Beautiful Boy (St. Martin's, Jan. 8). Hysterical, horrifying and completely quotable, Leleux opens with a note, freely admitting to embroidering, conflating and improving where necessary, because after all, “a hat's not a hat, 'til it's tilted.” It was Texas in the mid-1990s, they didn't know about restraint. When Leleux's father walks out, his mother embarks on an intensive course of plastic surgery designed to find another rich husband. Robert and his mother have found men to love and their own versions of happiness. This is a spectacular debut; fans of David Sedaris, Augusten Burroughs and Josh Kilmer-Purcell will love it.