“When You Were Me”–changing places

Rodi, Robert. “When You Were Me”, Kensington, 2007.

Trading Lives

Amos Lassen

Some of you may be familiar with Robert Rodi from some of his previous books—“Fag Hag”, “Closet Case” and “Kept Boy” among others. He s one of the funniest and most prolific of gay authors writing today and if you have not read him, you should. His new book “When You Were Me’ is sure to reinforce his already wonderful reputation.

His short fiction appears on a regular basis in our magazines and like many others, I have been anxiously waiting for a new book. I am pleased to say that he is good as always, if not better.

This new book is about how hard it is to be someone else. Jack Ackerly is a very rich and very dull man. He has been a workacoholic and eve though he has made a lot of money, at age 53 he begins to regret having missed having a lot of fun. He knows it is impossible to relive the past but with the help of a “fusion witch” by the name of Francesca, he is able to change places with someone else who is willing to go along with the idea. All he needs to do is find the right person with whom to change lives.

Corey Szaslo is 26 and very jaded. He has no education because he has been too busy being a party boy. He also has no career, no money and no prospects for the future. He thinks that changing lives with a millionaire may be an exit from his current miserable lifestyle even if h has to double his age and gain weight.

Soon the two men change places and each lives the other’s life to the nth degree. Jack, as Corey. Racks up tricks on a regular basis once he becomes a bar hopper and visitor to the gay meat market. Corey, as Jack, gets busy becoming a social butterfly and globetrotter as well as hard worker at his local gym.

As good as it was for the two guys at the beginning of the arrangement, things begin to fall apart. Jack’s ex lover comes onto the scene pleading for one more chance and this ruins the experiment. Jack and Corey suddenly become rivals and the competition is underway. The climax that ensues causes them to move farther and farther away than they had ever thought of being.

Rodi has a knack for satire and he really knows how to pull the reader in. This is one fun book but on a more serious note, it also looks like at identity and knowledge of oneself as well as experience and envy. Think how many times you have said “If only…” After reading this book, I bet you will think twice before you ever say it again. This may be the gay blockbuster for the summer. It is an ideal beach book, mainly because all you have to do is open it and enjoy.

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