In Robert Leleux's author's note at the beginning of his debut, The Memoirs of a Beautiful Boy (St. Martin's, 272 pages, $23.95), he quotes, "A hat's not a hat till it's tilted," to inform readers to expect embellishments throughout:
"I have, naturally, corrected unbecoming camera angles, softened direct, overhead lighting, altered outmoded skirt lengths, reduced unflattering early-morning, under-eye puffiness, bloating, and splotchiness, as well as reversing the accelerated aging effects of excessive exposure to ultraviolet rays."
It is this flair for the dramatic that lured me into the book, which doesn't disappoint. He may touch up the stories of his East Texas upbringing by a bewigged, plastic surgery-happy, looking-to-snag-a-new-husband mother, but the end result is as entertaining as it is dysfunctional. Chapter 1, paragraph 1, lays it all out:
"In the Dear John letter Daddy left for Mother and me, on a Saturday afternoon in early June 1996, on the inlaid Florentine table in the front entry of our house, which we found that night upon returning from a day spent in the creme-colored light of Neiman's, Daddy wrote that he was leaving us because Mother was crazy, and because she'd driven me crazy in a way that perfectly suited her own insanity."