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These Things Happen Hardcover – November 7, 2012
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Exquisite . . . These Things Happen is greater than the tactility of its descriptions and the tragicomic vivacity of its characters. This is a novel of the sort that defines generations. Weaving together the individual struggles of his various characters with profound empathy, Kramer asks the reader to consider the limitations of genial political correctness, and even the very notion of love . . . . Beauty and tragedy, adoration and resentment perch simultaneously on single sentences, and readers will be hard-pressed to resist the resultant emotional pull. If, as Wesley muses, everything is practice for conversations that haven’t happened yet, with people [we’ve] yet to meet,’ then wandering the pages of Kramer’s novel may be a crucial warm-up exercise for us all. A dazzling tour de force, alternately exhilarating and devastating, and, at all turns, revelatory.”ForeWord Reviews
"Like the two main characters it so unforgettably etches, Richard Kramer's first novel exemplifies the virtues of both youth and maturity: it manages to be both wise and wide-eyed, sage and sensitive, deeply funny and, in the end, disarmingly touching. The man behind ThirtySomething and My So-Called Life has taken his trademark qualities--the grownup's shrewdness about the way the world works and the adolescent's disarming emotional nakedness--and fashioned from them a very affecting work of fiction." --Daniel Mendelsohn
Artful, thoughtful and extremely funny, this is a wonderful first novel about artifice and the discovery of true feeling, about the roles we play and what we choose to make of them.” Cathleen Schine
An introspective and contemporary character study . . . Earlier in his career, Mr. Kramer worked on the acclaimed television dramas, My So-Called Life” and Thirtysomething.” From the former, he has borrowed the focus on teen angst as narrated by perceptive teens. From the latter, he has borrowed the insecurities of highly competent parents caught in the act of flogging themselves for their non-omniscience. These Things Happen is Richard Kramer’s first novel, but he is no novice. This is a well-measured and mature debut.” New York Journal of Books
"In Kramer's warmhearted and appealing novel, we get to know Wesley through his own storytelling and via chapters told in the voices of the significant people in his life. Everyone knows Wesley and his best friend, Theo, are close. After Theo is elected class president in their socially liberal private school, he comes out during his acceptance speech. Controversy and violence follow, and Wesley comes to his friend's aid. Theo has questions he wants Wesley to ask his father, a gay activist lawyer, and his father's partner, an actor and chef. Wesley's mother and stepfather also weigh in. Questions lead to more questions and, ultimately, to examinations of the essentials of life and love. Wisdom and understanding are achieved, but not from the expected sources. Kramer catches the snap of adolescent speech and the concerned tones of the adults with skill. Choppy on the surface, the novel is calm and deep as a whole. Wesley is a remarkable and well-drawn character, as are the adults in his life. Kramer's tale of coming-of-age and coming out should have wide appeal. -Booklist
Richard Kramer’s These Things Happen is a jewel of a book: incisive, funny, wise, and moving. It prompted me, on almost every page, to ask the question I’m most glad to find myself asking of a novel, How did the writer know that?”
[B]rings his eye for human nature to his debut novel.”Marie Claire
There is precious little territory of the male heart into which Kramer does not venture with audacity and tenderness. I closed this book feeling delighted, moved, and oddly privileged to have had such a wise escort on a journey both familiar and utterly foreign.”Julia Glass, author of The Widower's Tale and Three Junes
Emotionally resonant...The humanity and love between two people thrown together by circumstance is Kramer’s triumph...”Publishers Weekly
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Top Customer Reviews
all of us with sons in their 20’s and early 30’s, two of whom are married to each other,
which is how we met. These things happen, it seems? We have recently read THE GOLDFINCH, and
MEMOIRS OF A GEISHA, and GONE GIRL, to name just a few. This book got us more worked up than any other we’ve read.
My son (one of the gay ones) recommended it, and when I read it I knew it would be perfect
for our group. For us, in our discussion, this became a book about parenting, and about the hell you can
go through when you have a teenage son whom you deeply love and because he is a teenager suddenly decides you are
the worst person in the world. (p.s. We all survived that). The boy in this book, Wesley, reminded me SO much of
my son at sixteen (and Wesley isn’t gay). I read parts out loud to my husband who couldn’t believe the
resemblance, either. In the book Wesley leaves his mother (more on that in a minute) and his stepfather
to live with his father for a while. His father is gay, and has a partner of ten years or so. Wesley badly needs
a relationship with his father but it proves to be very hard to get. Not to ruin anything, but something happens
that is VERY dramatic and the mom finds herself at the center of a very big deal. What she does when faced
with the dilemma of protecting her child shocked us all. The group got pretty heated, which has never happened before.
We all wound up in tears and we all wound up pretty much thinking the mother was a wonderful person and
wondering if we could have been like her in that situation! Personally, I doubt it.Read more ›
And what a way to make that story! Kramer's tale is a poignant one: Wesley is a bright young sophomore in high school who is living with his father Kenny and Kenny's life partner (it takes a full book to finally come to a name for their relationship) George in an apartment above the little New York City theater district restaurant that George owns (with Kenny). Wesley's parents are divorced and his mother Lola has remarried an ophthalmologist Ben and Wesley has been living with Lola and Ben until it was decided that Wesley and Kenny needed to nurture their father son relationship. George, a wondrous character this George, comes from a theater background and lives in that world psychologically much of the time. He is close to Wesley and bonds more with the boy than Kenny does.
The turning point of the story comes when Wesley's best friend Theo wins an election in school and abruptly announces to the audience that he is gay. Wesley is a bit surprised but accepting and the two boys wonder is being gay a choice and when and how do you `discover' you're gay?Read more ›
One that made me laugh: "Only Maggie Smith can answer this question properly and since she lives inside me, I have no trouble summoning her up." That belongs to George and he is the hero of the story. I wanted him to be my best friend. I wanted to hang around at his restaurant and eat his focaccia and pasta fagioli. If he weren't gay, I would be the one proposing to him. I could have highlighted his entire dialogue if I knew how to use the highlight option on my Kindle.
I also wish I had him around when I was raising my teenagers. This is a line I could have kept in my pocket and referred to often during those years: "I've learned that about kids; never let them know you already know something; let them believe they've brought it to you."
I love coming of age stories. Wesley is a character who belongs right up there with Scout in To Kill a Mockingbird. He is a highly intelligent, thoughtful young boy who lives with his Dad, Kenny, and his partner, George. Richard Kramer does an excellent job bringing us into their intimate moments. One of my favorite scenes in the book was a work day morning when George taught Wesley to make waffles and Kenny fielded dozens of phone calls. The dialogue sang here and as a writer I know how difficult it can be to get dialogue pitch perfect.
The characters were nuanced and real. Kenny reminded me of my uncle and godfather who was also married before he "came out.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The book is at times quite funny and moving, and the author certainly has a way with a line. (Although I worry a tad for the non-lgbtq folks under the age of 40 who may not get all... Read morePublished 2 months ago by v. darkbloom
If you wonder what it might mean to know someone gay. How does this affect your life?Published 4 months ago by Joanne M. Borden
I tore through Richard Kramer's These Things Happen in three days -- it took me back to my days in New York and before that to what it was like in high school. Read morePublished 4 months ago by John Degen Pener
Long after I read the last page of Richard Kramer's poignant novel THESE THINGS HAPPEN I found myself wondering how Wesley, Theo and the ebullient George were doing, thinking,... Read morePublished 4 months ago by harvard86
A story about parenthood and the secret prejudices we hide from ourselves told from multiple perspectives. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Carolyn Hendler
30something viewers will recognize the voice of Richard Kramer. He captured that bit of sarcasm mixed in with angst that we loved from his writing on the screen. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Scott Ryan
I read 'These Things Happen' on a recent vacation and loved every page of it. Richard Kramer's empathy for so many different people knocked me out. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Joseph R. Meyers
This empathetic and lively novel isn't just about the many variations of what it means to be a modern family. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Bob Morris
This is an absolutely charming book. Like a modern-day CATCHER IN THE RYE, it is warm and wise and funny. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Victor Bevine