Following the publication of his second book, Rhodes's frustration with the publishing industry led him to announce his retirement from writing, though he later said, "I haven't really given up. I'm certainly not making any more grand pronouncements. I was just sick of the business and wanted out. Not just the publishers; everyone around me."
Rhodes was included on Granta's Best of Young British Novelists list in 2003, to his own bemusement and frustration, partly because of Granta's selection methods ("It's one thing to judge a writer by stuff they've written, but to judge them on stuff they're going to write is lunacy") but also because some of the others on the list failed to respond to his request to sign a joint statement protesting against the Iraq war.
Rhodes grew up in Devon, and graduated in Humanities from the University of Glamorgan in 1994, returning in 1997 to complete an MA in Creative Writing.Don't Tell Me the Truth About Love was written at this time. He has held a variety of jobs, including stockroom assistant for Waterstone's, barman in his parents' pub, and a teacher in Ho Chi Minh City. He has also worked on a fruit and vegetable farm.