Surprising Myself

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Surprising Myself: A Novel

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
A fresh tone, exuberance and light-handed humor mark this first novel about a homosexual's coming of age in Manhattan. We meet Joel Scherzenlieb at Boy Scout camp, where his CIA agent father has left him to work as a counselor for the summer. Joel doesn't yet know the nature of his sexuality, nor does he find out at camp, since his father soon whisks him off to live at his mother's farm in Virginia. With no money for college, Joel works the farm with his mother, maternal grandmother and sister Liza. Later, he runs into Corey, his only friend from camp days; finding their way to bed, they begin the relationship that's the heart of the book. At the same time, Liza is pursued by another former counselor, Bob. Eventually, Joel and Corey move to New York, where Joel begins to cruise the Village gay bars. One night Liza, who has left Bob, appears at their apartment with her baby; she turns to Joel and Corey for help and to confirm her belief in stable relationships. An irate Bob soon follows, precipitating the story's funny, riveting resolution, involving blackmail, issues of loyalty and considerable conversation about the nature and lastingness of love. Bram's novel is candid (often explicit), wise, humorous and affirmative, with compelling characters who are engagingly human first, and only then straight or gay. First serial to Christopher Street; paperback rights to Holt/Owl; major ad/promo; author tour. (May)
Library Journal
At the beginning, this story of two boys who meet and fall in love at summer camp has the feel of a teen ``problem novel.'' However, the evolution of Joel Scherzenlieb's personality soon emerges as the book's driving force. From a family he describes as a ``collection of solitaires''his father a spy, mother a back-to-the-earth nut, sister a failed feminist in a bad marriageJoel has few emotional resources and much training in both self-indulgence and self-criticism. In his feelings of inadequacy and aimlessness, Joel comes up against his lover Corey's seeming success and complacency; we leave the two just as they are learning to build off their differences. Joel is a character without particular talent or ambition made memorable through the skilled depiction of his coming of wisdom. This refreshingly unclaustrophobic gay novel is a mature first effort. Rob Schmieder, Boston
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781556110078
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 5/1/1987
  • Pages: 400
  • Product dimensions: 20.00 (w) x 20.00 (h) x 20.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Christopher Bram
Christopher Bram

Christopher Bram is the author of eight other novels, including Gods and Monsters (originally titled Father of Frankenstein), which was made into an Academy Award-winning film. Bram was a 2001 Guggenheim Fellow and received the 2003 Bill Whitehead Award for Lifetime Achievement. He lives in New York City.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 16, 2000

    What a great book, I could not put it down.

    I was very impressed with the author's ability to draw the reader in and make a connection with the characters in the book. You grow to love them, hate them, pitty them, and back to loving them again. This book even gets racy in some parts, very descriptive, it made me laugh, sigh, and at a couple parts even cry. I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to a great read.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 27, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

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