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These Things Happen Hardcover


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Unbridled Books (November 7, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1609530896
  • ISBN-13: 978-1609530891
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6.1 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (138 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #735,341 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

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. --Danise Hoover

Review

“a novel of almost shocking empathy and incredible love.” - Salon Magazine

“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?”
—Michael Cunningham

“[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



More About the Author

Richard Kramer is the Emmy and multiple Peabody award winning writer, director and producer of numerous TV series, including Thirtysomething, My So-called Life, Tales of the City, and Once and Again. His first short story appeared in the New Yorker while he was still an undergraduate at Yale. This is his first novel.

Customer Reviews

Everyone says that, but really, you'll laugh out loud.
ReadListenWatch
I just finished reading These Things Happen and I love, love, love this book and I highly recommend it to anyone, but especially teenagers and young adults.
MaryBorges67
Richard Kramer's "These Things Happen" is both funny and tender.
Joy Nancy

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
A very odd thing happens when reading Richard Kramer's utterly brilliant novel THESE THINGS HAPPEN: after reading each page there is a reluctance to turn to the next one, as though doing so just might let all the little wonders of the story, the characters, the words, the ideas, the wholly original manner of intermingling the spoken word tattooed into fragments of thought processes or descriptions of place evaporate. But of course they don't and by the end of the first chapter the reader realizes that every page is just as unique and satisfying, allowing these little technical bits of magic to flutter around the atmosphere as we grow into the story itself.

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?
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By H. F. Corbin TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on November 10, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Richard Kramer wrote this first novel, according to its jacket blurb, years after his first short story appeared in THE NEW YORKER. The wait was well worth it. This is one of those novels that you gush over in spite of your best intentions. It is in a word-- wonderful, the kind after racing through it, that you call up those you love and insist that they read it immediately-- but not your copy.

Set in New York and told from the viewpoints of several characters, the novel is about as contemporary as its gets. President Obama is in the White House and the New York legislature has just voted to allow same-sex marriage. And, yes, we have a nontraditional family. Wesley, the young fifteen-year-old, has two families: or one mother, a stepfather, a father and his father's partner. (One of my favorite funny sections of many, even though this novel is ultimately as serious as gay bashing, is Wesley telling his dad Kenny that he and his partner George are boring because he knows a kid whose "'dad was like a lawyer, then he became a woman and decided he hated being a lawyer. Now he's doing nails. And this other boy, Max Bloom? He lives with his mom, and his mom's girlfriend, and his mom's girlfriend's girlfriend.`'') And the plot is not complicated, but what Mr. Kramer does with it is simply not to be believed. Wesley asks his father Kenny and his partner George two questions. In about 250 beautifully-written and love-filled pages, we finally get answers from both men. Kenny's is predictable; George's will blow your head off.

Mr. Kramer is a master of dialogue-- the book practically reads itself-- but more importantly he makes profound statements about families (of all kinds) and relationships and raising teenagers and being a teenager and being gay and not being gay.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By AllanH on April 25, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Nora Ephron once observed -- I'm paraphrasing -- that Meryl Streep did a better job of being her than Nora had done of being herself. About halfway through reading Richard Kramer's brilliant book, Ephron's observation leapt to mind: Kramer, I thought, would probably write a better me than I could. That's because he's a master of the specific that illuminates the universal. The characters here are so real that you'd recognize them instantly if you spotted them at the supermarket or along the street; they couldn't be anyone else. (Part of Kramer's skill is that we can fully see his characters even when they can't always fully see themselves.) And yet I often suddenly saw (sometimes to my chagrin) my own suppressed feelings, the things I didn't intend to do and pretend that I never did, the things I wish I could be or do and too rarely achieve. In other words, the book forces us to confront what it means to be human, how we interact with each other, and the gaps between the stories we tell ourselves and the stories that we tell others. In lesser hands, that could be a slog about as much fun as a big fight with a spouse or a 10-tissue therapy session. But in Kramer's hands it's bliss. He is so wise, so funny, so accepting, so fully in control here that after I turned the last page I felt better about myself, and better about the big mess that life often is. Those feelings are as strong now, weeks after I finished reading it, as they were then. I imagine they will be for you, too; I encourage you to find out.
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