Rouse, Wade 1965-

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Rouse, Wade 1965-

PERSONAL:

Born 1965; partner's name Gary. Education: Drury College (now Drury University), bachelor's degree (with honors); Northwestern University, master's degree.

ADDRESSES:

Home—Saugatuck, MI. Agent—Writings: Wendy Sherman, Wendy Sherman Associates, 450 7th Ave., Ste. 2307, New York, NY 10123; Book-to-film: Amy Schiffman, The Gersh Agency, 232 N. Canon Dr., Beverly Hills, CA 90210. E-mail—[email protected]

CAREER:

Writer and journalist. Worked in public relations, publications, and communications for various private schools, universities, and colleges.

WRITINGS:

America's Boy (memoir), Dutton (New York, NY), 2006.

Confessions of a Prep School Mommy Handler: A Memoir, Harmony Books (New York, NY), 2007.

Contributor to periodicals, including Michigan Blue, Chicago Reader, Lake, and the St. Louis Riverfront Times.

SIDELIGHTS:

Wade Rouse grew up in the Missouri Ozarks and was always considered "different." After graduating from a regional college, Rouse began working for various academic institutions and writing for several regional journals. In 2006 he published a memoir, America's Boy, about his childhood. He begins his story with a description of a five-year-old Wade dressed in his grandmother's red high heels, his mother's black-and-white bikini, gold earrings, a tinfoil crown, and a makeshift banner with the words "Miss Sugar Creek" penned on with red ink. A comic approach dominates the first half of this memoir of sexual identity, fitting in, and a unique family until a tragic event changes the mood of the book.

Reviews of America's Boy, were mostly positive. Susan L. Peters, writing in Library Journal, called the memoir a "winner," adding that "Rouse writes tenderly, hilariously, and without bitterness about his unusual family." In a Booklist review, Michael Cart wrote that "teens will be attracted to Rouse's wry family accounts and more serious struggle with sexual identity." A critic for Kirkus Reviews thought the memoir "has several flaws" but conceded that a "lack of compassion is definitely not one of them." Concluding a review in Publishers Weekly, a critic noted that "when Rouse looks … around him, the book comes alive with tender portraits of kitsch and kin."

Rouse's second memoir, Confessions of a Prep School Mommy Handler: A Memoir, was published in 2007. Rouse tells readers of his job working at the Tate Academy (a fictional name meant to protect his subjects' privacy), a prep school for the privileged. Rouse's official title is director of public relations, but he shows that his main function is to keep the demanding mothers of Tate Academy students happy and to keep them from disrupting the lives of the school's teachers, students, and administrators. In an author's note, Rouse admits that the characters he portrays are composites, and not real people, which is another attempt to protect the anonymity of his subjects. His main character, Kitsy, wears Lily Pulitzer clothing, dresses her dog in matching outfits, and charges Rouse with such tasks as redecorating school-event invitations or making sure that chickpeas are offered in the cafeteria salad bar. In one episode, a ninety-three-year-old school patron pushes Rouse down the stairs. Although Rouse does his best to protect anonymity, St. Louis Post-Dispatch critic Cynthia Billhartz Gregorian commented on the fact that Rouse worked at the Mary Institute and St. Louis Country Day School from 1991 to 1994 and from 1997 to 2006. Reviewers enjoyed the humorous memoir. Booklist contributor Mary Frances Wilkens stated that Rouse's "irreverent look at his career at Tate is full of charm, candor, and cattiness." Furthermore, a Publishers Weekly critic stated: "Rouse's writing is fresh and funny … this an amusing insider look into the opulent lifestyle of prep school families."

Rouse told CA: "I grew up reading the columns of Erma Bombeck in our local paper, and her writing influenced me greatly. She wrote about everyday topics with humor, clarity and poignancy; everyone could relate to what she wrote. That's what I try to do: Write about universal experiences we all share (self-esteem, love, family, acceptance) in a personal and unique way. Growing up, I was greatly influenced by Jay McInerny and Bret Easton Ellis. I write in short, clipped passages … they helped teach me the power of saying so much with so few words.

"When I write, I sit alone on a screen porch in the woods in Michigan and try not to lose my mind. In moments of sanity and caffeine-infused inspiration, I write like a madman. Honestly, I write without editing myself, usually fusing funny, sad vignettes into a narrative arc I hope will be compelling, honest, raw and damn funny. I then go back and slowly whittle it all down into something workable, just like one of those country guys who sat rocking on the porch in Deliverance.

"As a writer, I have learned there comes a point in which your work is no longer your work … it becomes the world's. Everyone brings something to a book…. They bring their own life experiences, their own perspectives, their own tragedies, their own humor … and that shapes the reading experience in very different ways. I should've expected this—I mean, it's obvious—but I didn't. For me, I am continually humbled and gratified by the number of women, especially mothers, who have been moved by America's Boy. The book has challenged them to think about how they are doing as parents, the expectations they put on their children, and the importance of family and acceptance above everything else.

"Confessions of a Prep School Mommy Handler is very different … but still a powerfully funny memoir and character study of a very rich private school mother. The book looks at how we all become trapped in the worlds we create for ourselves, and why we allow ourselves to put up with so much crap in life.

"I hope that my books make people think and laugh: Simple but true. Simple truths … we have the power to control our destinies, but so few choose to do so. And laughter … we learn by laughing, not preaching."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

BOOKS

Rouse, Wade, America's Boy, Dutton (New York, NY), 2006.

Rouse, Wade, Confessions of a Prep School Mommy Handler: A Memoir, Harmony Books (New York, NY), 2007.

PERIODICALS

Booklist, January 1, 2006, Michael Cart, review of America's Boy, p. 36; August 1, 2007, Mary Frances Wilkens, review of Confessions of a Prep School Mommy Handler, p. 13.

Kirkus Reviews, February 1, 2006, review of America's Boy, p. 125; July 1, 2007, review of Confessions of a Prep School Mommy Handler.

Library Journal, April 15, 2006, Susan L. Peters, review of America's Boy, p. 86.

Metro Weekly, April 6, 2006, Tom Avila, review of America's Boy.

Publishers Weekly, January 9, 2006, review of America's Boy, p. 43; June 11, 2007, review of Confessions of a Prep School Mommy Handler, p. 47.

St. Louis Post-Dispatch, September 11, 2007, Cynthia Billhartz Gregorian, review of Confessions of a Prep School Mommy Handler.

ONLINE

Teenreads.com,http://www.teenreads.com/ (August 5, 2006), Sarah Rachel Egelman, review of America's Boy.

Wade Rouse Home Page,http://www.waderouse.com (August 5, 2006).