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How I Learned to Snap: A Small Town Coming-Out and Coming-of-Age Story Paperback – May 27, 2003


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books; Reissue edition (May 27, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0142002992
  • ISBN-13: 978-0142002995
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #828,110 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Kirk Read is a nationally syndicated journalist and performer whose work has appeared in more than one hundred publications, including Out, Genre, and Christopher Street.

Customer Reviews

That just seems dishonest though.
Jeff
I found myself laughing out loud many times, and wanting to read on about the next story he had to tell from his past.
Jake Z
This book is the heartwarming autobiography of a gay man growing up in the 1970s and 1980s in Virginia.
G. Gustin

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Kevinduran on February 5, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Kirk Read's first book is one of the most refreshing, entertaining books to come down the gay pipeline in quite some time. Most people will find something that they can relate to, even if they aren't gay. Part David Sedaris (the "not in-your-face" gay humor) and part Judy Blume (the coming of age part...although I don't think Judy's ever written about gay teens!), Kirk's words read like a gentle, Southern, summer breeze. He is very matter-of-fact and really does not make much of an issue out of being gay.
Some of the things that Kirk writes about might be a bit shocking for some (sex with an older guy at such a young age, for instance) but the writing is so warm and honest, that I really didn't think about how serious some of the situations were. I don't want to imply that the book makes light of these situations, because it doesn't at all.
The other thing that I loved about this book is that each chapter is quite short. It's the exact opposite of "wordy"- Kirk gets right to the heart of each story he tells. This book would be perfect for someone who likes to read a little before going to bed. I was able to read the entire book in a day.
Don't miss out on this great book! It has a permanent place on my bookshelf!
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Tim on March 13, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Ok, so i didn't grow up in the 80's, but i'm growing up now, and i thought this book was great. I just finished it seconds ago, and I really don't know exactly how to phrase what i'm feeling, but i enjoyed it so much. it's like you get to spend 200 pages having someone interesting, wise, and experienced talking to you, and you have their undivided attention. it made me feel really great...but that's from the point of view of a person who is basically in the situation that he is discussing in the book, so i can't speak as anything but a teenager. but as a teenager...read the book.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Brad on October 30, 2001
Format: Hardcover
If you enjoy some of Kirk Read's syndicated columns in the gay press, prepare for an equally insightful and amusing voice, but with a sweet anecdotal and utterly Southern charm.
Read recounts his teenhood as an ongoing process of learning, suffering and coming out bit by bit, yet he dispenses with self-tortured misery, and offers an uplifting and often hilarious take on the horrors of high school.
Read provides an updated version of the teen coming out memoir, with modern updates. It made me wonder how many other new queer kids cut out pictures of Sir Ian McKellan and put them on their lockers. Read recounts his personal activism in rural Virginia. Diet Coke, Casey Donovan, gym teachers, Judas Priest, drama club; "Child," this is a fun and uplifting account with all the style and richness of the best young adult fiction. But it's all true!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Stacy Deyerle on February 2, 2003
Format: Hardcover
I grew up near where Read did around the same time. There were probably times we crossed paths at area malls or movie theatres. This canvas gave me motivation to read the book.
Apart from that, our lives are incredibly different -- I am the straight mother of a toddler living in the suburbs. Yet Read's conversational tone and personable writing style made this accessible and enjoyable. Reading the book gave me the sense of having had a conversation into the wee hours of the night with a new friend, where incidents from the past become valuable character insight and cause for endearment.
I am not always a fan of memoir/autobiography, and found this more entertaining and freshly original than most in its class.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Chad Sosna on February 21, 2005
Format: Hardcover
This book is a snappy series of short chapters that give an interesting, multi-layered look at a young man growing up in Virginia in the 1980s. The many references in the book to that era will really resonate with those who grew up with them, and for those who didn't, there are many universal themes you'll recognize.

The chronological thing didn't bother me: he seemed to arrange the events in a way that is intelligent. I do see a bit of David Sedaris in this writing, but this is entirely different than Sedaris' stuff.

I thought Kirk's refreshing, positive handling of circumstances was nice `n' different. We've had a lot of books about suffering related to coming out and being gay, and it was nice to see a character that handled the gay life with finesse. This is different! I highly recommend reading this.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By "iandthou@yahoo.com" on December 4, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Kirk Read is as irresistible in print as he is in person; his talent is more than skin deep. For all this book’s cuteness, Read knows exactly where he’s going. Between the prologue and epilogue he serves up fifty-one snappy sound bites, vignettes of growing up gay in conservative Lexington, Virginia. The beauty of the book is that its humor more often than not is self-directed. A quick study for survival, Read finds the folk who give him strength, and overwhelms (gay)-baiting rednecks with sheer force of his sweetheart personality. Throughout his puberty he’s on a roll and doesn’t have time to be a victim. Persecuted, he’s the ultimate good sport, and in the end his good-natured refusal to become anyone he’s not wins over even his tormenters.

Some readers might find Read’s invariable turning of ill into good to be too facile. Indeed, he comes off well, often with a deserved comeuppance for his detractors. But he never makes himself heroic, and there is his charm. What he learns, he learns from a parade of teachers, librarians, older peers, and a few empathic gay men—or from blindly stumbling (sometimes staggering) from innocence to enlightenment while just trying to be a normal, if over-the-top, boy. His mom’s his greatest ally; his dad—VMI, career military with a bark bigger than his bite—doesn’t understand him. But both love him, and he loves them. He’s open to experience wherever his nature leads him, and it leads him not to football (although he excelled in soccer) but to writing, theatre, and men who love him.
Read more ›
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