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Ham: Slices of a Life: Essays and Stories [Kindle Edition]

Sam Harris
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (261 customer reviews)

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Sold by: Simon and Schuster Digital Sales Inc
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Book Description

ham (noun) [hæm]
1 the hind leg of a hog, salted, smoked, and cured
2 second son of Noah
3 somebody who performs in an exaggerated showy style
-always hamming it up

Just when you thought you knew everything about ham, you discover that ham is also:
4 a reason to laugh about everyday life, and
5 an irresistible collection of humorous essays from a man who was born to entertain us.

In sixteen brilliantly observed true stories, Sam Harris emerges as a natural humorist in league with David Sedaris, Chelsea Handler, Carrie Fisher, and Steve Martin, but with a voice uniquely his own. Praised by the Chicago Sun-Times for his “manic, witty commentary,” and with a storytelling talent the New York Times calls “New Yorker– worthy,” he puts a comedic spin on full-disclosure episodes from his own colorful life. What better place to find painfully funny material than in growing up gay, gifted, and ambitious in the heart of the Bible belt? And that’s just the first cut: From partying to parenting, from Sunday school to getting sober, these slices of Ham will have you laughing and wiping away salty tears in equal measure with their universal and down-to-earth appeal. After all, there’s a little ham in all of us.

Editorial Reviews


"A vividly crafted series of essays...a charmingly candid collection." (Publishers Weekly)

"[Harris] has the writing chops to tell a good tale...entertaining and occasionally moving tales from the wilds of showbiz." (Kirkus)

“Reading singer-actor Harris’s essays is like having your smartest gay BFF propped up on your pillow sipping cosmos, regaling you with  gossip and his keen wit.”

“The essays in Ham are both rip-roaringly funny and sentimental, drawing natural (and justified) comparisons to David Sedaris and David Rakoff.” (Esquire)

"The show’s title is also the name of Mr. Harris’s just-published book of essays and stories. Funny, touching and cheerfully self-deprecating, the show consists of enthusiastic readings from his book with full-tilt renditions of songs....The darker side of Mr. Harris’s tale concerns his struggle with his homosexuality, his attempted suicide and his eventual self-acceptance. It is an archetypal coming-out story to which he brought an inspirational spin...every move generates excitement. The word “ham” says it all." (Stephen Holden, The New Yorker (on the musical performance based on Ham))

“With a wry sense of humor, Harris writes about his life through humorous essays. Touching on everything from parenting to show business, he dishes on the ups and downs of his life through a witty lens.”

“Harris is such a marvelously engaging, clever, storyteller that you’ll be enraptured by every word that comes out of his mouth. With a fine eye for detail and actor’s expressiveness, Harris paints wonderfully vivid portraits of various episodes of his life. And then there’s that still glorious, blow-the-roof-off, remarkable singing.” (Theater Pizazz)

“Sixteen short stories of a triumphant, tragic, and most of all, hilarious life in show business make up Sam Harris' new memoir.” (Jackie Lyden, NPR)

“This neo-vaudevillian stage persona, Harris has opted to launch Ham the only way he knows how: extravagantly, theatrically and, most of all, big…refreshingly self-effacing observations and playful humor.” (The Huffington Post)

"Ham is a fabulous and funny, tasty treat; sweet and savory with just right touch of tang." (Broadway World)

“Sam Harris, singer, songwriter, actor, and general multi-hyphenate, puts a comedic spin on episodes from his life…he’s up there with David Sedaris and David Rakoff." (The Advocate)

“Harris writes with bouncing-on-your-toes energy, rushing from subject to subject with the occasional lingering moment to ponder things that are important to him. His is an eagerness that’s endearing….hilarious…teary.  With humor, soul-baring, name-dropping, and just the right mix of vulnerability, Ham is a definite pleasure to read. If you’re looking for a memoir that you can enjoy, embrace this one whole-hog.” (Dallas Voice)

Ham is, by turns, harrowing and hilarious, uplifting and soul-shattering, agonizing and liberating." (Oklahoma Magazine)

Ham is honest and heartbreaking, entertaining and devastating all at the same time." (The Steadfast Reader)

"Ham is humorous, soul baring, name dropping, and just the right mix of vulnerability and snarkiness." (Washington Blade)

Ham is a dishy celebrity memoir combined with profoundly harder things like 9/11, alcoholism, suicide attempts, coming out, marriage and parenting.  There is as much hilarity in the book--he knows how to make people laugh, especially at him. He really opens up, showing us his struggles, and has far deeper dimensions that I wasn't expecting when I picked up this book. He's clearly added writing into his stable of talents, and I am hoping folks will give this book a try." (The Tattered Cover)

Ham is a collection of heartfelt, sharply funny memoirs. At a time when other essayists in the style of David Sedaris and Augusten Burroughs seem to have scraped the bottom of their autobiographical barrels, Harris arrives with great observational writing chops and a deep well of material to draw upon.” (Passport Magazine)

"Harris is wry, witty, bitchy, pensive, inspirational, and laugh-out-loud funny in this winning collection of essays." (Courier-Journal-Gannett Press)

About the Author

Sam Harris's diversified career has run the gamut from singer and songwriter to actor on Broadway, film and television to writer, director and producer. His now legendary performances on TV's Star Search led to a multi-million selling recording career. Sam has 9 studio cds to his credit and has toured the world in concert, played The White House, Carnegie Hall, with the Boston Pops and with Cyndi Lauper's True Colors tour. He is also a Tony nominated Broadway star, (The Life, Grease, The Producers) and starred in numerous off-Broadway productions including Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat, Hair, Pippin, Jesus Christ Superstar, Cabaret, The Jazz Singer and The First Wives Club. Sam was a series regular on the CBS series, The Class, and has appeared on numerous television shows as an actor and also a popular talk show guest on everything from Leno to Oprah to Fallon. Behind the scenes, he created and co-wrote the TBS television series, Down to Earth, the musical Hurry! Hurry! Hollywood!, and Liza's Back at the Palace, (which won the Tony Award), co-produced the television special Love Letter to New York, and wrote and directed the concert event New York's Finest. He now adds "author" to his long list of accomplishments with the release of his first book: "Ham: Slices of a Life," a collection of essays and stories published by Simon & Schuster. Sam lives in Los Angeles with his husband, Danny, and their child, Cooper. For more information and contact, please visit: and

Product Details

  • File Size: 3773 KB
  • Print Length: 305 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1476733449
  • Publisher: Gallery Books; Reprint edition (January 14, 2014)
  • Sold by: Simon and Schuster Digital Sales Inc
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Not enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #215,211 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
38 of 41 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars OMG. Funny January 14, 2014
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I don't know how anyone could give this less than five stars. I literally started laughing on the first page and couldn't stop throughout the entire book. I enjoyed this book so much that at some point, when I lost my glasses, I found an old pair of readers with the nose pads missing. I decided that the sharp pain of the metal digging into my face was worth it. It was worth it for several hours. I may now be permanently scarred. Still, it was worth it.

This book reminded me of David Sedaris, the older stuff by Sedaris when I found him funnier and less dark. The tone was set from the minute Harris describes dancing harder after seeing his father's disappointment. I don't want to ruin the laughs for you, so suffice it to say, if you like David Sedaris' humor, you will LOVE this book. I did.
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24 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Authentic and thoughtful and funny and well-written November 16, 2013
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I got this book because reviews said it is reminiscent of David Sedaris, one of my favorite authors. It is, but is also SO much more. It wasn't a book to be charged through in one sitting. To me, this book was like sitting down to a restaurant meal and discovering, before anything else is served, that the bread is unbelievable---fresh and chewy and solid. You slow down in your eating of it, to savor it (and because you don't know when you might get any more of it). Aside from his humor, and the interesting aspect of getting to see a bit into the private lives of stars, Sam is insightful and thoughtful. The chapters on growing up gay in Oklahoma, his personal journey and the psychology teacher who saved him, were both honest and a revelation to anyone outside that experience. The final chapter about the birth of his son, when he recognizes the complexity of the profound loss being experienced by the birth mother and the profound joy of he and his partner, all unfolding in the same room, underscores the compassionate reflection that is the hallmark of this book.

As a nod to other reviewers I will admit that it is not as laugh-out-loud funny as EARLY Sedaris (such as "Holidays on Ice", although I think Sedaris' latest two books have fallen flat), but Sam's stories have a poignancy and a resonance that Sedaris' lack. Sam makes his points through introspection whereas Sedaris relies on comic satire. Some of the chapters (like that on alcoholism) are so unattractive and soul-baring that one can only believe Sam is (courageously) telling the true story of his life. Similarly, the one called "liver" reminds one of the times when we are "chopped liver" to uncaring others----yet we try to make the best of a bad situation, refusing to give up.
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A side of ham please January 6, 2014
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
When I selected this book, I knew Sam Harris as a Broadway personality, known for his work in The Producers and other productions. He's a gifted singer and entertainer. Now, it seems, he is a gifted and entertaining writer as well.

Sam's book, Ham: Slices of a Life, is a series of funny, touching, poignant essays and stories about his life growing up gay in Oklahoma in a time when it wasn't safe to be gay in certain parts of the country, his family, work/career, and his professional relationships in the entertainment industry that include one story, in particular, about working with Aretha Franklin (and lots of juicy bits about Liza Minnelli).

This is a pretty hilarious book, or perhaps I should say memoir. Yes there are some areas of the book that are not so funny like the pain and suffering of childhood and growing up when one is different than others but he endures and creates a life for himself through work, artistry, and love. The overwhelming feeling of this work is most definitely an uplifting one. Believe me I laughed out loud (very loud) many times during the reading of this book.

Sam ties it all together in the final chapter about the birth of his son and the understanding of what a gift it was to have him while recognizing the profound loss of the birth mother with great compassion.

I was actually a bit sad that this ended and hope to have a sequel at some point in the future.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Humorous and Sobering Story February 8, 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Sam Harris narrates his life to this point in a way that is by turns hysterically funny and incredibly poignant. Growing up gay in Oklahoma in the 1960's, he must come to terms with his family, the close-minded residents of his little town and himself. He becomes a singer, and music and musical theater are his salvation. He moves among the top tier of contemporary musicians. His account of his concert in Cleveland with Aretha Franklin is priceless. Sam deals with major social issues of our time with sensitivity, humor and insight. This read might not be for everyone, but it has a lot to offer anyone with an open mind and heart.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Left wanting more ! January 27, 2014
By shelli
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I read Sam's book in two days. I have always found Sam funny , lovable, and very talented. His book validated everything I already knew. I loved learning what makes Sam Sam. My only complaint is I want to read more ! Well done Sam ! Thank you for sharing with us. I bought a second copy for my son !!
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A witty clever read January 25, 2014
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Sam Harris has penned a most humorous, very entertaining read. Thoroughly enjoyable! So clever and funny.
Buy one for your friends! A great read!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Confusing, serious look at life
Story of Sam's life but told in a very strange and out of order sequence. Had a very hard time following the character development as action took place out of order and jumped from... Read more
Published 14 days ago by B. Biddle
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Published 1 month ago by Joe Buyer
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Excellent book!! Couldn't put it down and read it in 4 days!!!! Love Sam!!
Published 1 month ago by David E. Middlebrough
5.0 out of 5 stars Thank You, Sam
I found this to be soul bearing, funny, sad and in the end, to show that no matter what life can throw, we can come out stronger, more loving, and be a survivor. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Cheri A. Boyer
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Loved every minute of it funny funny
Published 1 month ago by karen lee
4.0 out of 5 stars Witty Wise and Worthy of Reading
Witty, wise and worthy of reading, I enjoy Sam's pleasant outlook. There is so much about him I didn't know.
Published 1 month ago by Jim
5.0 out of 5 stars The singer can write, too
Better than I ever expected it to be. Who knew Sam Harris could write? This is funny and heartfelt and worth every minute of every page.
Published 1 month ago by jonny
5.0 out of 5 stars Love this book
Love this book! Sam Harris cannot only sing his heart out, he writes like he's been doing it all of his life. I can't wait to read the next one. You must get this book. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Patti Nash
4.0 out of 5 stars such a great look into someone else's life
I bought this book, but didn't read it right away. Eventually I forgot why I bought it, or what it was about. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Sharon Magner
5.0 out of 5 stars Gotta love sam
Published 2 months ago by kevin
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More About the Author

Sam Harris' diversified career has run the gamut from singer and songwriter to actor on Broadway, film and television to writer, director, producer and now, author. After pulling a weekly audience of more than 25 million viewers and going on to win Star Search in it's premier season, Sam and his powerhouse pop, gospel and theater influenced vocals have never looked back.

He is a multi-platinum recording artist with 9 studio CDs to his credit including SAM HARRIS and SAM-I-AM (both top 40 hits), STANDARD TIME and DIFFERENT STAGES (produced and conducted by the legendary Peter Matz, and which have been listed on numerous "Top 100 Records of All Time" lists.)

Sam has toured extensively in concert and has played to sold-out audiences at major venues including New York's Carnegie Hall, Los Angeles' Universal Amphitheatre, London's West End and with The Boston Pops, has played at The White House, and participated in Cyndi Lauper's TRUE COLORS tour. On television, Sam starred in the CBS sitcom, THE CLASS and has appeared on multiple series as well as countless television specials. He has been a guest artist on virtually every talk show from Leno to Fallon; his favorite in an historic time, when he performed a stirring "You'll Never Walk Alone" on THE OPRAH WINFREY SHOW in the week following September 11th.

On Broadway, Sam received a Tony, Outer Critic's Circle and Drama Desk nominations for his work in Cy Coleman's THE LIFE as well as a Drama League Award and Drama Desk nomination for his role in Tommy Tune's GREASE, and appeared in Mel Brook's, THE PRODUCERS. He starred in JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR, CABARET, JOSEPH AND THE AMAZING TECHNICOLOR DREAMCOAT, HAIR, PIPPIN, THE JAZZ SINGER, THE FIRST WIVES CLUB, SCHMOOLI & MINNOOLI (with Liza Minnelli) and the smash hit, one man show SAM.

Behind the scenes, Sam co-wrote the TBS sit-com, DOWN TO EARTH, which ran for 4 years. He also co-produced the PBS television special LOVE LETTER TO NEW, supervised and directed segments of MICHAEL JACKSON'S 30TH YEAR ANNIVERSARY at Madison Square Garden, and co-wrote LIZA'S AT THE PALACE, which won the 2009 Tony Award; and created and directed the concert event, NEW YORK'S FINEST - BROADWAY'S LEADING MEN.

In an exciting new chapter of Sam's career, his first book, "HAM: Slices of a Life" (Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster) was released in January 2014. HAM is a collection of stories and essays on everything from growing up in Bible Belt Oklahoma to show biz, celebrity, and his family life as a husband and father. He has fashioned a hilarious and poignant one-man show of the same title, which has toured in major cities throughout the country. Both the book and the show are receiving rave reviews in publications from The New York Times to People Magazine, Esquire, and numerous others.

For more information, please visit:

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