These Things Happen

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Overview


These Things Happen is set in Manhattan and focuses on two couples – one gay, one straight. They share a 15-year-old son, Wesley, who lives on the upper East Side with his mother and doctor stepfather. Trying to get to know his impressive, distant father better, he moves in for a semester with him his male partner in a mid-town brownstone. George, the partner, is a former actor — by his own account “fifteen years past fabulous.” Charming, funny, smart and compassionate, George manages a struggling theater ...
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These Things Happen

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Overview


These Things Happen is set in Manhattan and focuses on two couples – one gay, one straight. They share a 15-year-old son, Wesley, who lives on the upper East Side with his mother and doctor stepfather. Trying to get to know his impressive, distant father better, he moves in for a semester with him his male partner in a mid-town brownstone. George, the partner, is a former actor — by his own account “fifteen years past fabulous.” Charming, funny, smart and compassionate, George manages a struggling theater district restaurant and becomes the model for the kind of man Wesley would someday like to be.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“Mr. Kramer has a gift for angst and honesty. . . his dialogue is funny and captivating.” — The New York Times

"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

“Emotionally resonant . . . The humanity and love between two people thrown together by circumstance is Kramer’s triumph” — Publishers Weekly

“...a novel of almost-shocking empathy and love.” — Salon.com

"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

Publishers Weekly
Wesley Bowman, the teen protagonist of this debut novel from the writer, producer, and director of such TV dramas as My So-Called Life and Thirtysomething, leads a privileged but fractured life in Manhattan. His parents have divorced, and Wesley’s recently moved in with his father—an influential gay rights activist—and his father’s partner, George, in order to “get to know each other as men, since the belief is I might soon become one.” While Wesley struggles to acclimate to his new digs, his best friend, Theo, wins the class presidency and announces he’s gay during his acceptance speech. His classmates are indifferent, but Theo, eager to acquire “edge,” hopes for a trial by fire for coming out. When the flames do crop up, they’re much hotter than Theo could’ve imagined, and they land him in the hospital. Despite a tendency to couch exposition in dialogue, Kramer succeeds in depicting an emotionally resonant and unexpected connection between Wesley and George. The humanity and love between two people thrown together by circumstance is Kramer’s triumph, and it nearly redeems the novel. Agent: Gail Hochman, Brandt & Hochman Literary. (Nov. 2)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781609531010
  • Publisher: Unbridled Books
  • Publication date: 4/15/2014
  • Edition description: First Trade Paper Edition
  • Pages: 272
  • Sales rank: 202,490
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author


Richard Kramer is the Emmy and multiple Peabody award–winning writer, director, and producer of TV many 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. He lives in Los Angeles.
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Read an Excerpt

A lot can happen in a day, sometimes. Not every day, of course. Most have one event, and that’s if you’re lucky. Many have less, which seems especially true in our school, which is hard to get into and committed to serving the community but is also, as a rule, unthrilling. Maybe things pick up in eleventh grade, which is when Mr. Frechette, a teacher we like, says our brains have developed to the point where we can grasp irony, accept ambivalence, and acknowledge the death’s head that lurks at the edge of all human endeavor. His exact words; I put them in my phone. We’ll see, although I trust him.
Mr. Frechette can get sour, but he’s also pretty wise.

Maybe today’s a preview of next year, then, because a lot has happened in it, even without the death’s head. School’s out. Theo and I are on our way to tae kwon do. Wherever you look, whoever and whatever you see seems glad to be a New Yorker, not just people but buildings, and pigeons, and signs. Theo’s my best friend, and always has been. He says that’s just because he’s the only boy in my school who’s not named Max or Jake, but that’s not it at all (which he knows). It’s simple. He bores easily. So do I. But we don’t bore each other, and that’s since in utero, practically, as our moms met in Lamaze class and got to be friends. He got his name because his mom wrote a book about the loser relatives of famous artists. Theo Van Gogh was Vincent Van Gogh’s brother; Mrs. Rosen, Theo’s mom, pronounces the name (I quote Theo here) “like she was choking on a rugelach.”). Theo V.G. knew Vincent was the talented one and worked hard to make sure the world knew it, too. I admire that, and hope I would do the same, if I had a brother who was an insane depressed genius, which I don’t. I’m an only child.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 4 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Posted December 16, 2012

    Check out the full review at Kritters Ramblings A different book

    Check out the full review at Kritters Ramblings
    A different book than what I normally read, but a girl needs a change every once in awhile!  With only male characters voicing the story, two of which are a gay couple with one of their sons living with them for the semester, this an interesting family drama with a different kind of family at the center.  Other male characters that are involved are two young boys who are friends and in the middle of their friendship, one comes out to the other and their entire school in quite a public way - how does this affect their friendship? 

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    Posted April 19, 2014

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    Posted September 15, 2013

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    Posted December 4, 2012

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