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These Things Happen

3.54  ·  Rating details ·  596 Ratings  ·  155 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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Jan 13, 2013 rated it really liked it
I complain that most novels are set in the Big Apple—but the stage is ripe for literary occurrences aplenty, I won’t lie. In Richard Kramer’s first novel, we nab a sliver of a glimpse of what all those non-NYers out there (like, what, the rest of the unlucky 99% of us) are rarely afforded: the true neo-Yorker in his habitat—as important to know, as emblematic of the nation as a whole, as eye-opening, as Edith Wharton’s NY was at the turn of the 20th century. How lucky are we to live in a world w ...more
Ulysses Dietz
Apr 06, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Dec 27, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Emily Crowe
Sep 11, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Jan 26, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: lgbtq, fiction
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
Jul 10, 2012 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nov 20, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Dec 11, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
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
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
Jul 19, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Brian Centrone
Apr 28, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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
Nov 12, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Jun 11, 2012 rated it it was ok
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
Apr 12, 2013 rated it really liked it
A story that initially seemed simple, but is actually quite profound.
Apr 28, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Dec 15, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 09, 2013 rated it liked it
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
Sheila Blanchette
May 30, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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
Jun 22, 2013 rated it really liked it
"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
Matthew Gallaway
Oct 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
John Wiley
This was a really enjoyable book. All of the characters seem like real people that you would know; something that in enhanced by the shifting POV's. Wesley and George were the ones that I enjoyed reading about the most, as they felt the most fully developed.

One thing I wasn't aware of when I started it was how "gay" it was going to be, but that's OK on account of me being a gay. But it was so easy to get swept up in the story of these couple of days that I finished this book in only 4 days - th
Karen Kondazian
Mar 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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 is is to be the sad, damaged,under loved, blissful human, ambulating this world of ours as a child disguised as an adult. Do not pass 'Go'-- until you read this masterpiece.
Michael Diamond
Dec 23, 2012 rated it really liked it
I just picked this one up off the shelf at Barnes and Noble and was hooked by the compelling, sparse writing style. The author uses a pretty cool device in character development - writing chapters from the perspectives of the different people. You just need to remember who's doing the talking.
Tim Federle
Apr 24, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Observed with a virtuosic rotating cast of narrators, THESE THINGS HAPPEN is so fast and funny and true that it'll make you wish you'd written it, a little regretful that you didn't, and a lot HAPPY that Richard Kramer did. It's like a beach read that went to college first.
Bob Bucci
Jun 21, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Roof Beam Reader (Adam)
Dec 10, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: gay-lit
Interesting and engaging addition to the contemporary gay fiction genre.

Read the full review:
Chase Hackett
Aug 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I absolutely adored this book.
May 19, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Brandon Ulman
Apr 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Richard Kramer first became known to me, as a fan, with his stand-out scripts for the 1999-2002 television series 'Once and Again,' which has been my favorite show since the initial airing of its pilot. When I learned in March, through late night Facebook browsing, that he had recently authored his first novel, I sought it out immediately.

A dumb mental road block kept me from finishing it as soon as I could have, and I finally had to restart it to see the book and characters as the author inten
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Who By Fire Onlin...: Post a q. or comment for Richard Kramer 1 13 Aug 05, 2013 07:07AM  
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  • Love Slave
  • Cha-Ching!
  • The Canvas
  • Remembrance of Things I Forgot
  • Eminent Outlaws: The Gay Writers Who Changed America
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  • Grief
  • How Long Has This Been Going On?
  • Breakfast with Scot

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“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.” 1 likes
“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
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