“Sparkle: The Queerest Book You’ll Ever Love” by Rob Rosen— Having Fun Being Gay

Rosen, Rob. “Sparkle: The Queerest Book You’ll Ever Love”, The Fierce Publishing 10th Anniversary Reissue, 2011.

Having Fun Being Gay

Amos Lassen


It’s hard to believe that Rob Rosen’s “Sparkle” is already ten years old and the good news is that it has just been reissued in a tenth anniversary edition. Those of you who have never read it for whatever reason now can have the special treat of doing so.

“Sparkle” is a very funny coming out story that is a look at a time that was—the 80’s and the 90’s, a time that was filled with sex, drugs and rock and roll. We meet two gay men, Bruce and William, in San Francsisco and we are with them as they come to terms with who they are and the world. To say that there life is madcap is an understatement. This is a rollicking look at the fun one can have as a gay person. Sure, the adventures are excessive but even in excess there is a bit of truth and here is where the book catches you. As unbelievable as some of it may be, it is still quite believable. We are with Bruce and William from their first sexual encounters through their evolution to drag queens and adopting a full grown son.

Bruce and William are symbolic of those gay guys who do not want to miss a “trick” or anything or anyone else. They do it all but with that is a sense of love and family that we, as gay men, form as friends. Rob Rosen writes of how we live and shows us “the good, the bad and the ugly” and the beautiful.

There are some books that become regarded as iconic representations of gay life and I predict that with time this will be one of them. Bruce becomes Sparkle and William becomes Secret and as Secret sits beside his comatose friend (the result of having been shot by an unknown gunslinger), he remembers the crazy lives they have shared. The two characters are unforgettable and Rosen gives us two wonderful additions to the characters that define us in literature. He also gives us a fine supporting group of characters and as I said, even in its wildness, the story is totally believable (especially if you have ever lived in a major American city).

It is very easy to discover that you are totally involved in the novel and especially in the characters. The flashback technique is very effective and the story is filled with twists and turns. The one thing that kept going through my mind was that Rob Rosen is a very, very talented writer. His book is one that will make you smile and even shed a tear but it is important to remember that as much as we love the characters, it is Rosen who created them and it is Rosen who drives the plot. I have read everything he has written and I must say that he always surprises with his wit and his clever plots. However, Rosen also has that very special quality of style and you feel it throughout. Watch for it–it will be out in the next few weeks.