From the Publisher
“His best work--it's terrific, piercing, and funny. The novel demonstrates every kind of strength.” David Lipsky, The New York Times Book Review
“James Sveck is a brilliant wit of a character whose voice will echo long after his story ends.” Kristin Kloberdanz, Chicago Tribune
“Deliciously vital right from the start . . . a piece of vocal virtuosity and possibly Cameron's best book . . . It is a bravura performance, and Someday This Pain Will Be Useful to You is a stunning little book. ” Lorrie Moore, The New York Review of Books
“Cameron's prose handily marries the tangled logic of adolescence to simple, beautiful language.” Peter Terzian, Newsday
“Beautifully conceived and written . . . funny, sad, tender, and sophisticated.” Michael Cart, Booklist
…his best workit's terrific, piercing and funny. The novel demonstrates every kind of strength. He offers dry-ice observations ("My grandmother is a firm believer in proper deportment; it is the closest she comes to any sort of religion"), memorable weather ("The sky went dark in a weird green swampy way that gave me a creepy end-of-the-world feeling"), and emotions I didn't believe had descriptions ("I ... just let everything go, turned the net of myself inside out and let all the worried desperate fish swim away"). It's as if Cameron had taken the tools earned over a whole career and applied them to the materials of a first book.
The New York Times
Children's Literature - Joella Peterson
James Sveck does not like the idea of starting at Brown in the fall, and he especially does not like the idea of interacting with people his own age. While he works for his mother at her art gallery the summer between his senior year of high school and first year of college, he looks at old houses for sale in the Midwest in hopes of abandoning the whole college idea his parents are so set upon. James yearns for a simple life where he can just skip over the painful social agony of dealing with (even just talking to) people he does not want to deal with (which is almost everyone). James does not like talking, but Cameron's book shows the inner workings of James' mind and the daily teen angst he deals with. The rich characterization connects readers to James and his struggle to figure out just who he is and what he wants. This brilliant story is perfect for teens who struggle to find themselvesor even just the words to express what they want to say. Reviewer: Joella Peterson
VOYA - Teri S. Lesesne
James Sveck has it all, or so it seems to his family. He is eighteen, accepted into Brown University for the fall, and has a summer job working at his mother's art gallery. From James's point of view, however, life is not so idyllic. His summer job is a joke because hardly anyone ventures into the gallery-instead he has to appear busy and interested. Ditto the prospect of college: James is not certain that he even wants to attend school, uncertain as to why would he want to spend time with people his own age. On the surface, James appears to be just another disaffected product of a privileged life. Readers will discover, however, that there is more to James than his professed disinterest. Profoundly affected by the events of September 11 and his parents' divorce, James coats his wounds and focuses instead on precision in language from his parents and his peers. What saves this novel from becoming yet another story of a rich teen who is bored by his own life is the slow unfolding of the events that have colored James's outlook on life. Cameron is never rushed in the narrative, taking his time to show readers that sometimes the events of one's life can take a toll that is difficult to see at first. James, forced to become more introspective and to seriously consider why he is so dissatisfied with his life, comes to understand that same lesson and to learn that he can not only survive but also rise above his challenges.
School Library Journal
Gr 10 Up
Peter Cameron has crafted a sharp, biting tale (Farrar, 2007) that deservedly has been compared to J. D. Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye . The translation to audiobook format is just short of brilliant. Eighteen-year-old James Sveck lives with his upper-crust family in New York City and is ambivalent about many things: his Ivy League future at Brown, his sexual orientation, his dislike of kids his own age. The people in James' life include an artsy mother who came home from her honeymoon alone, a pretentious sister, his smart and funny grandmother, and his co-worker at his mother's art gallery. James meanders through the summer sharing his observations of the world around him. Alarmed at his insistence that he has no use for college, his parents force him into therapy. When James turns inward to examine his ambivalence, the story takes a serious turn. The divorce of his parents left scars and his high school was close to ground zero on September 11th. Narrator Lincoln Hoppe perfectly captures James' wit, sarcasm, pain. The ending is rather abrupt and we never fully understand James' motivations, but this won't be problematic for listeners. With strong language and mature themes, this is a story for older teens.-Tricia Melgaard, Centennial Middle School, Broken Arrow, OK
Cameron's meticulously voiced novel begins as a comedy of manners, wittily disarticulating a certain class of New Yorker, so it takes the reader awhile to catch onto the fact that it's actually a story about the psychological pain that comes from loneliness and the difficulty in making emotional connections. The virtuoso first-person narrative is related by the protagonist, James Sveck, an 18-year-old boy who is as smart as he is alienated. Hiding his fears behind a curtain of disinterested contempt, James, who is gay but unwilling to either discuss or test it, likes only two people in his life, his wise and accepting grandmother and the man who manages his mother's art gallery. In the course of the story, James comes to realize that he can't wall himself off forever, finally making a maladroit and unsuccessful attempt to reach out. Cameron's power is his ability to distill a particular world and social experience with great specificity while still allowing the reader to access the deep well of our shared humanity. (Fiction. YA)
Read an Excerpt
From Someday This Pain Will Be Useful to You
We sat for a moment in silence, and then the waiter delivered our meals. My father glanced at my plate of pasta, but said nothing. He cut into his nearly raw beef and smiled at the blood it drooled. "So," he said, after he had taken a bite, "you're not going to tell me."
"Not going to tell you what?"
"Whether or not you're gay."
"No," I said. "Why should I? Did you tell your parents?"
"I wasn't gay," said my father. "I was straight."
"So, what, if you're gay you have a moral obligation to inform your parents and if you're straight you don't?"
"James, I'm just trying to be helpful. I'm just trying to be a good father. You don't have to get hostile. I just thought you might be gay, and if you were, I wanted to let you know that's fine, and help you in whatever way I could."
"Why might you think I was gay?"
"I don't know. You just seem - well, let's put it this way: you don't seem interested in girls. You're eighteen, and as far as I know you've never been on a date."
I said nothing.
"Am I wrong? Or is that true?"
"Just because I've never been on a date doesn't mean I'm gay. And besides, no one goes on dates anymore."
"Well, whatever - normal kids hang out. They go out."