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These Things Happen

3.58 of 5 stars 3.58  ·  rating details  ·  499 ratings  ·  143 reviews
A domestic story told in numerous original and endearing voices. The story opens with Wesley, a tenth grader, and involves his two sets of parents (the mom and her second husband, a very thoughtful doctor; and the father who has become a major gay lawyer/activist and his fabulous "significant other" who owns a restaurant).

Wesley is a fabulous kid, whose equally fabulous be
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published November 7th 2012 by Unbridled Books
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Remembrance of Things I Forgot by Bob   SmithWhy Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? by Jeanette WintersonAre You My Mother? by Alison BechdelThe Empty Family by Colm TóibínMary Ann in Autumn by Armistead Maupin
The Green Carnation Prize
10th out of 62 books — 24 voters
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Underdog Literature: 2012
214th out of 237 books — 71 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,492)
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Ulysses Dietz
The opening chapters of "These Things Happen" are very funny - because of the spot-on first-person narrative of Wesley Bowman, a fifteen-year-old preppy whose best friend Theo has unexpectedly outed himself while giving his class president acceptance speech.

But the tone of the entire book soon begins to fade to almost black; and from a lighthearted romp that has you smiling at the character's teen-boy quirks and verbal wit, you make your way into a profound emotional journey through the eyes of
Emily Crowe
Extremely funny so far--I'm hooked. I never watched the tv shows this author wrote for, other than the occasional episode of My So-Called Life, so I didn't know what to expect. I'd say that it's a cross between the humor of Joss Whedon and the dialogue of John Green--which makes for good entertainment, if not always entirely realistic characters. I don't think there is a pair of 15-year-old boys living in the US who talk like that, but that doesn't mean I think this is a bad thing.

I'm torn betw
A lot can happen in a day, although sometimes its full effects aren't apparent till a few days later. If it's a day when your best friend decides that his student-government victory speech is a fine opportunity to announce his homosexuality to the entire school, and then enlists you to ask the adults you're living with--your gay father and his long-term partner--a couple of questions about their own experiences with "gayness," it's one of those days when a lot happens. And when that day is follo ...more
Although generally I enjoy narratives that are told from multiple points of view--because it's always interesting to see how a situation can change depending in who's looking--this book does not accomplish this successfully. This is because although each chapter was titled with the name of the current narrator, and we were clearly seeing things from a different perspective, I was constantly flipping back to remind myself who was talking, due to the fact that the voice and the tone remained exact ...more
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I loved this book. I want everyone I know to read it. Why because it makes you laugh, it makes you cry, and boy does it make you feel , all the while making you think. Quite a feat.
Mr. Kramer weaves multiple character's points of view and voices together to create a chorus of humanity. Each one of his characters is relatable, either you are them, or you know them. Wesley, the sixteen year old hero of the story is just that, sixteen. He's trying to figure out where he is going both literally and
Sonja Yoerg
These Things Happen is a big little book. A big little funny book. Two days, a handful of characters, a school, a restaurant, a cramped Manhattan apartment and a roof. We take a peek and Kramer opens up the world.
The skinny: Wesley, a sixteen-year old, is living with his gay dad and his long-term partner, George, as a way to get closer to his dad. Wesley’s mom is happily remarried. As the story begins, Wesley’s best friend, Theo, announces at school he is gay. The opening scenes between Wesley
Wesley is a high school sophomore attending a progressive Manhattan private school that prides itself on its strong sense of community. His mother sends him downtown to get to know his father, Kenny, a gay activist lawyer, who lives above the Hell’s Kitchen restaurant that his partner George owns. Instead of growing closer to his father, Wesley realizes that he father is too busy being the voice of the gays to pay him much attention. He finds himself developing a stronger relationship with Georg ...more
Brian Centrone
These Things Happen is a beautifully written novel. Richard Kramer brings his experience in writing exemplary television to craft a tightly choreographed piece of prose. Each character is in a personal dance with each other, and the reader, their lucky private audience. Those readers who enjoy witty, sophisticated, thoughtful writing will fall in love with These Things Happen, as I have done. In fact, the novel made me fall in love with reading all over again. It reminded me of exactly why a boo ...more
Steve Kluger
Possibly the most effective feel-good book I've read all year. Wesley and Theo are 16 and best friends; Theo's gay, Wesley's not. But Wes has got two sets of parents: his mom and her husband, and his dad and partner George. The novel examines a few crucial days in the lives of this group, as adults come to terms with themselves and kids become adults. It's all chronicled with a sure hand that blends comedy with drama so effectively that you never notice the line that customarily separates the tw ...more
Sheila Blanchette
Awesome. And I apologize for the use of that word, but this is not hyperbole. This book truly is a beautiful little gem of a novel. I wished I wasn't reading it on my Kindle because I often found myself wanting to quickly flip the pages and return to that sentence that made me laugh out loud or the one that took my breath away.

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
Jul 19, 2013 Jax rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: 4-star
I loved this writing! All the different perspectives were very interesting and enlightening. It allowed a very clear picture of each character to emerge from relatively brief glimpses. I felt like I was in that tiny apartment with them and at that restaurant table having that awkward discussion and on and on through every little scene in the book. And George's experience at the hospital? Heartbreaking. He was the real star of this book for me. It was fascinating to see how his own opinion of him ...more
Leslie Thompson
Book jacket promised it to be funny. I couldn't relax as a reader because Kramer was trying to be TOO clever with every single bit of dialog. I am not fond of the different-chapter-different-point-of-view narrative device, either. If it could be told from the boys' point of view I might be more compelled to finish it, because the author, at least through George's character, really gets adolescence. There was one passage, on page 39, that captured the insecurities of parenting:

"I...doubted Wesley
"These Things Happen" has its flaws; all novels do. I found them increasingly easy to dismiss -- and ultimately no longer notice -- as I was drawn along by compelling characters and sparkling dialogue. It's no surprise that author Richard Kramer made his career as writer and director of family dramas "thirty something" and "My So-Called Life." In his novel, Kramer presents another family drama, of teen boys, divorced parents, new partners, as they encounter school, work, and life drama. It's a l ...more
I may expand this review soon, but my computer is down and I'm forced to use my iPhone to write this. So, typing with one finger, I need to get to the point. Richard Kramer's THESE THINGS HAPPEN is a very well-observed novel about a fifteen-year-old boy's coming-of-age in present-day Manhattan. He (Wesley) is straight, while his best friend is gay. He is living, only very recently, with his father and his father's boyfriend. His mother has raised him for the most part, and she is married to a ma ...more
Just knowing the author was the producer of Thirtysomething, My So-called Life and Once and Again was enough for me to pick this up, though I also read a good review. Each chapter is told from a different character's perspective.

Unfortunately, while the beginning was promising, the story dissolved toward the end. For some reason, I found the dialogue annoying the way it was written. The whole premise kind of bugged me, too, because there wasn't much of a resolution. Wesley moves in with his fat
Matthew Gallaway
What begins as a sunny, urbane picture of "post-gay" relationships in New York City becomes much more darkly philosophical and psychological as characters grapple with (or succumb to) homophobic violence, secrets, and prejudice. Things may be "getting better" -- and we see the political trappings of "acceptance" here -- but to read this book is to understand that in many ways, they are getting worse. The story raises many insightful questions (with no easy answers) about how well we can ever rea ...more
Bob Bucci
I loved it! Reminded me of Michael Cunningham, Wally Lamb and John Irving.....but different. It's own style. I wished it did not end as I wanted to know these lives more, like they were family.
T.M. Smith
This story is told from multiple perspectives throughout, but the majority of the time the reader is hearing from Wesley himself and George, his father's significant other.

Wesley is at a turning point in his life it seems, completely unsure of which fork in the road to take. He is living temporarily with his father Kenny and his father's partner, George. While Kenny is an established gay rights activist and lawyer, throughout the story he is completely emotionally distant with both his son and
A story that initially seemed simple, but is actually quite profound.
Chris Poulin
Story: best friend comes out; father is already gay; straight kid struggles.

This book is written from different points of view: the straight son and friend, the gay friend, the gay father, the gay father's partner, the mother, the mother's new husband. The concept is interesting, how each reacts to a scenario that's not uncommon these days, at least not in a general sense. The characters are rich, partly because of the reader's view into their inner monologue; however, I felt that the author tri
Christina (A Reader of Fictions)
In my recent reads, I've noticed a trend: there seem to be a lot more books now that take place on an accelerated time line. The whole book covering less than a week of time, where I feel like I remember reading a lot more books that took a lot more time. These Things Happens spans only a couple of days, but really packs a wallop nonetheless. Kramer focuses on the power of family, and embraces the larger definition of what a family can be.

These Things Happen reminds me a bit of the show Modern F
Now and then along comes a candidate for the Great American Novel

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
These Things Happen
Richard Kramer

My "in a nutshell" summary...

Every chapter is told through a different person...all are related in one way or another.

My thoughts after reading this book...

New York, private school, divorced parents, gay father, gay friend, sexual identities...this book pretty much has it all. It sort of centers around Wesley...a 15 year old and his friend Theo. Theo sort of announces that he is gay...but the novel doesn't really center on that issue. To me it seemed to be abo
An enjoyable read from a debut novelist well recognized for his work in TV. Parts are very funny -- there's an early scene involving a clown that's so hilarious I had to read it aloud to my husband and barely could -- and other parts are heartbreaking. Ultimately it's very earnest. This is a story told with a lot of love.

For me the main story is about a man, George, who's trying to feel his way toward a connection with teenager Wesley, the son of his longtime partner. In a perfect world George w
This proved an excellent read for me – not just because it was a nice change from the gay genre fare I’ve been ploughing through for the past few months, but it captured my attention with the distinct voices and richly textured characters and retained my focus through the intrapersonal musings and complex interpersonal dynamics.

Wesley is 15 – he’s at that age where he’s trying out ‘his voice’, experimenting with language through his everyday dialogue with friends and parental figures, selectivel
Karen Kondazian
This Book is why we Read Once in awhile, a book will grab you by the throat and shake you hard, until you either weep or laugh out loud.(perhaps on every page) It is allowed to do this because it gives you a gift for your trouble... a gift that reveals the absolute truth of what it is to be the sad, damaged,under loved, blissful human, ambulating this world of ours as a child disguised as an adult. Richard Kramer's "These Things Happen," is the book I speak of.
Adam Dunn
I didn't like this book and didn't finish it. I didn't care. I got to 65% and it just got worse.
The writing style was unusual and annoying, I suggest trying a sample before buying the book.

“Why isn’t it okay, Wes?”
“Well,” Wesley says, with the sad-for-us laugh I sometimes think should be his ring tone, “because it’s school!”
We all laugh, which feels “nice,” which is a word I hate, but hate a little less when it’s the right word, as it is now. Then Wesley cuts our laughter short.

If you're lookin
Chris Boneau
I loved this book so much. It sneaks up on you. Just when you think it's a fairly simple story, it turns and keeps surprising you. Richard Kramer is a beautiful writer. I always knew when he was the writer of an episode of "thirtysomething" or "Once and Again". He took risks, dared you to listen to the dialogue as people grew up, grew together, grew apart. With this book, I was simply amazed. Of course I didn't want it to end. Read it.
This novel tells the story of a 10th grade boy whose best friend comes out and the aftermath from different points of view. For me, the most compelling character is George, the gay stepdad who has no official role, title or place but who is also the emotional center of the story. The final scene, played out on a rooftop, evoked Tennesee Williams in the dialogue-driven awkwardness, tension and fragility of the characters, both guarded, but who also want to connect. Even in uber-sophisticated Manh ...more
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Who By Fire Onlin...: Post a q. or comment for Richard Kramer 1 12 Aug 05, 2013 07:07AM  
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“I'm always working, like everyone I know, to seem more amazing and well-rounded and interesting than I actually am, or could ever be. The weird part is: no one's every actually said that to any of us. It's more like it's on all our devices, stuffed forever into all of our Clouds; like prune paste in hamentaschen…” 0 likes
“This is us, then, at night. Two men, slowly crumbling, minding our business in the bed we flip four times a year to extend its life. I've got my side, Kenny's got his, and from time to time we meet in the middle to do what Men Like That (like us) do in a bed; it's not always hot, not after all this time, but it's reassuring. Mostly, though, we sleep. We like to. We work hard. We need it.” 0 likes
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