Men My Mother Dated and Other Mostly True Tales

Men My Mother Dated and Other Mostly True Tales

4.6 6
by Brett Leveridge

As heard on "This American Life" and NPR's "All Things Considered," Brett Leveridge spins mostly true tales of small-town Lotharios and big-city dreams in a voice that is simultaneously hip and homespun -- and utterly his own.

There's something universal in these tales of the dating life, peopled with well-intentioned boys-next-door, two-timing playboys,

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As heard on "This American Life" and NPR's "All Things Considered," Brett Leveridge spins mostly true tales of small-town Lotharios and big-city dreams in a voice that is simultaneously hip and homespun -- and utterly his own.

There's something universal in these tales of the dating life, peopled with well-intentioned boys-next-door, two-timing playboys, and traveling roustabouts with a girl in every town. You'll meet the fellow behind Mom's first arrest; get the unexpurgated truth about winking Bob Wills, the King of Western Swing; and learn why a young woman would consent to see "The Eddie Cantor Story" six times in two weeks -- with six different men. Leveridge holds forth on many other topics as well, offering his decidedly contrarian views on major holidays, hilarious skewerings of television ads, and a bittersweet account of the life of a straight man often presumed to be gay.

Like the best of our current essayists -- Roy Blount, Jr., David Sedaris, Sandra Tsing Loh -- Leveridge is at once forward-thinking and nostalgic. With his enormously appealing voice and happy knack for taking a commonplace topic and veering off into uncharted territory, Leveridge is, as one scribe put it, "Will Rogers meets Garrison Keiller meets Jack Kerouac." Men My Mother Dated and Other Mostly True Tales collects the best of Leveridge's work from his award-winning website, BRETTnews, and his long-running Might magazine column; it also boasts ten brand-new, never-before-published installments of Mom's romantic adventures and assorted other surprises.

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Editorial Reviews

New York Times Book Review
Droll and effortless ... As an essayist, Leveridge has an interesting voice. He belongs to the school of bemused dyspeptics that has produced such disparate observers as Calvin Trillin and Andy Rooney.
St. Petersburg Times
If Garrison Keillor and Dave Eggers merged into some freakishly funny media hybrid, Brett Leveridge would be it ... The humor is subtle, but distinctive.
School Library Journal - School Library Journal
YA-These essays, ostensibly about the author's mother's dating days in Oklahoma in the 1950s, form the heart of Leveridge's commentary on myriad contemporary subjects-everything from panning ads to promoting tattoos. YAs will enjoy sinking their teeth into this quick, clever read. The author's agile wit about dating and slices of daily home, work, and social life have broad adolescent appeal. Sports fans will appreciate the foreword by popular anchorman Bob Costas, which offers insight into the author that coincides nicely with the "Other Mostly True Tales" part of the book. The beginning accounts of his mother's youthful dating have an over-the-fence gossipy tone while still sounding plausible. They serve as a reminder that parents had lives before they married. Photos of his mother's suitors-prospective and dejected-appear at the top of each vignette and add interest. It is easy to imagine why Leveridge used a personal ad to try to find a mate, and funny to learn how he copes in his still-single life. An engaging recreational read.-Karen Sokol, Fairfax County Public Schools, VA Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.|

Product Details

Random House Publishing Group
Publication date:
Edition description:
1 ED
Product dimensions:
5.78(w) x 8.57(h) x 0.77(d)

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Legal Disclaimer

This is a work of fiction. In the legal sense. I mean, you know how lawyers are. Either it's 100 percent true or it must be fiction. But what is truth? You've seen Rashomon, right? No? Oh, you really must see it, it's one of Kurosawa's best. Anyway, in Rashomon, there's this rape-murder, and four people who witnessed it each offer an account of the incident, and of course they all differ. So say, for example, that the author's mom, years before the author is even a twinkle in her eye, goes out to dinner with a guy named Pete. They go out for Italian. Their waiter is named Herman. And the coat-check girl's name is Velma. At one point, Mom stands up, spills red wine all over the table, gives Pete a good hard slap across the face, and storms out of the restaurant. Now, if you were to ask Pete what happened, his version would probably differ greatly from Mom's. And Herman, who's waited on Pete before and knows him to be a rather chintzy tipper and who only saw the spillage and slappage from the corner of his eye while he was taking an order at another table anyway, would have still another account. And Velma, who thinks Pete one gorgeous hunk of man and who was watching the pair from the moment they sat down in an attempt to ascertain whether Pete and that cheap blonde were actually on a date or if they were just friends or first cousins or something, would offer another story altogether.

So the reader is advised to think of the accounts in this book as one woman's recollections of dates that occurred many years ago filtered through the overactive imagination of her no-account son, the author. No doubt the men Mom dated would offer differentversions of the events detailed in this collection. As would the various waiters, cabdrivers, landladies, ticket sellers, and other peripheral characters who appear in these tales. And that's just fine; let 'em all write their own damn books. Because, like we said, these stories are, in the legal sense, works of fiction. Like every love story ever told. But the essays and stories that follow them, the ones taken from the author's own life? Those are true. Mostly.

Bob Petronick

Mom's one date with Bob Petronick, in her freshman year of college, was an eventful evening of firsts. He escorted her to her first fraternity party, a semiformal affair at which she imbibed the first beer of her young life. One beer led to another and then a third, and in short order, she was pretty tight. Another female party goer bumped into her there in the crowded ballroom, and before anything could be done, she and Mom became embroiled in a hair-pulling, eye-gouging catfight, the first such row Mom had ever been involved in.

The fight was broken up by the campus police. Mom's arrest (her first) on drunk-and-disorderly charges led to her first night in jail. Bob, much to his credit, took up a collection around the fraternity house and posted her bail the next morning, but he never called for another date. Mom garnered thirty hours' community service, six months' probation, and a reputation.

Nick Fogarty

My parents married some four months after they became formally engaged. Mom, as most of us would, experienced the occasional bout of cold feet during this time of waiting. It was during one of these periods of uncertainty that the company for which she worked as a secretary, Garrett Grommet Corp., hired a new director of sales.

His name was Nick Fogarty, and, oh, was he smooth. He began to ply Mom with sweet talk from the day he set foot in the corporate headquarters, and he never let up. Normally, Mom would easily have dismissed the lines of such a slickster, but in her erratic emotional state, she was vulnerable to his attentions.

After two weeks of pressure, she finally gave in and met Nick for a Tom Collins at Zasu's Paradise Lounge, not far from the office. He was quite charming, and perhaps sensing Mom's trepidation, he behaved in gentlemanly fashion. Mom drove home in a fog, more confused than ever. Sure, she loved her fiancé, the man who was to be my father, but was he the man she should marry? Was she too young to settle down? And what of Nick? He was so worldly, so exciting.

Her answers came the next day at the office, when she picked up the phone to have a sandwich delivered for lunch and inadvertently selected Line 2 instead of Line 1. Nick was on Line 2, reassuring his wife--his wife?!--that he'd not forgotten their fifth anniversary and professing his undying love and devotion.

Trembling at the thought that she might have thrown over my father for such a louse, Mom marched into Nick's office, told him the jig was up, and informed him, in no uncertain terms, that he was to refrain from speaking to her in the future, or she would go straight to Mr. Garrett with all the sordid details of Nick's behavior.

It wasn't until two years later that Mom revealed to Dad her brush with disaster. Dad was, of course, furious with Nick, with whom he'd chatted baseball as recently as the previous summer's office picnic. Not being the violent sort, however, he fought off the urge to give Nick a sound thrashing, opting instead to drop by his house every night for two weeks, ring his doorbell, and run.

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What People are saying about this

Henry Alford
"The publication of this funny and well-observed book should keep its author's team of psychiatrists very, very busy."
Ira Glass
"What's so appealing about these stories is how thoroughly they recreate the dreamy, idealized version of life that presumably floats through the head of Brett's mom. It's a loving and utterly original portrait of a mother who comes off as lively, appealingly sexy, and chaste -- all at the same time. It's amazing what an ingenious man can achieve with a high school yearbook, a word processor, and an Oedipal complex."
Dave Eggers
"Mr. Leveridge's mother, whom I have not yet met but feel like I already know, would be proud of this collection, were she alive, which she very well might be. Leveridge's touch is soft, and his accounts of his mom's dalliances pitch-perfect and sublime."

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4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Reading Mr. and Mrs. Leveridge¿s comments made me realize where Brett gets his terrific sense of humor. Hands down, this is one of my favorite books of the year. The stories of his mother¿s dates are warm, funny, and totally captivating. The rest of the stories or commentaries, if you will, are just as well written and some are laugh-out-loud hysterical! His views on some of our more popular holiday celebrations are not to be missed. You simply cannot go wrong with this slim volume of essays by a man with a truly observant eye toward our current state of social affairs. I have purchased around ten copies of this book for friends and I am happy to say that each and every one of them has thoroughly enjoyed this wonderful collection of essays by this very talented man, Brett Leveridge. But don¿t take my word for it¿just ask his mom!
Guest More than 1 year ago
OK, I've known Brett Leveridge for years, and have admired his writing for ages. I've followed his radio commentator's career with interest, as well as...let us be honest...tinges of jealousy. And why not? Brett's writing is so deceptively simple, I find myself thinking, studying, scheming. It was in this grumpily calculating spirit that I watched him write this book and invite me to a reading from it, little dreaming, I suppose what evil lurked in my heart. And damned if he didn't do it again, that Brett-like thing his writing does: within minutes of his starting to read a 'Men My Mother Dated' story, the one where his mom gets into a 'hair pulling, eye-gouging catfight, the first such row mom had ever been involved in,' I was laughing helplessly, as Brett went on to add, straightfaced, that mom's arrest ('her first') landed her in jail over night until her date 'took up a collection around the fraternity house and posted bail the next morning.' As always, Brett manages to create his own little world, marked by mom's cheerful resiliance and his own sly humor. Does he make this stuff up? It feels like fiction but it's so seamless that the only possible reaction is to relax and enjoy it. After the reading, I went home and read the second half of the book, the 'mostly true tales' of the title, in which Brett recounts a series of funny, sometimes touching vignettes from his life as a single man in New York. I found myself, again, admiring his honesty and essential generosity as a writer. I thought I knew Brett, who is, all competitive spirit aside, a great guy, but these stories revealed a whimsical side of him, of dating, of life in the city that are really magical. As he says in the disclaimer, they're 'mostly true', but there's a quality of infinite possibility he brings to the utterly commonplace, as in a story about waking up at 3 am because of street noise and realizing it's from the subtle sounds of four men tap dancing. Tap dancing! Only in Brett's world would a glance out the window reveal an elderly man 'relishing the opportunity to surrender, even in his limited fashion, to those same rhythms that the three younger men had marked with their feet, to perpetuate, in the pale glow of the late spring moon, what must surely now be, for him, several decades of dancing. His are slow and steady movements, long scraping sweeps of the foot, like a drummer using brushes instead of a stick, but they seem wonderfully economical after the feverish steps of the younger men...' Yes, this is a book of humor, but it's also a book about life's poignance and possibilities, and the tender gifts afforded by a look outside a window at 3 AM. In a world with a surfeit of hope, this book is a sweet talisman, and I'm glad I have it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This was a fun read. I was sorry when I finished it, but then I came across another book with a similar theme that is based on real hard facts, 'Sarah' by J.T.LeRoy in which a pre-teen boy in West Virginia desires to be as good with men as his mother so strongly that he emulates her 'look' -- her makeup, her walk, even her name. While 'Men My Mother Dated' is fun, 'Sarah' is heartbreakingly funny.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I've been a fan of Brett Leveridge's ever since I read my first copy of BrettNews. I've been wondering when he would finally compile all of these retro stories into one volume and it has finally happened. Hooray!! This is really thoughtful and clever writing. It is hard to read them aloud to someone else without breaking up from laughter. If you're looking for the perfect book to get for someone having a bad week, look no further. This is it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book's entertaining enough, sure, but I wish someone would explain to me why it had to be MEN MY MOTHER DATED. It could've been PEOPLE MY PARENTS DATED or even WOMEN MY FATHER DATED. Believe me, I cut a pretty wide swatch in my day.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Brett Leveridge is a terrifically funny writer; his prose is at once witty and engaging, the tales he spins warmly evocative and unforgettable. He's also very attractive, makes a nice living, and calls his mother at least once a week. Why he's still single, I'll never know.