Sh** Happens in Kramer’s ‘These Things Happen’

Richard Kramer's 'These Things Happen.'

Richard Kramer’s ‘These Things Happen.’

In his first novel, Richard Kramer, a writer better known for his work on television shows such as “Thirstysomething,” “My So-Called Life” and “Once and Again,” bores into the separate minds of a 21st century family: a divorced couple, their bright-beyond-his-years son and the respective partners of the parents.

Wesley’s mother is an enlightened, liberal New Yorker and his older stepfather is equally egalitarian; the boy’s father is a well-known and oft-quoted gay attorney and activist who’s been in a 10-year relationship with an actor-cum-restaurateur. When Wesley’s best friend embraces his homosexuality, raising a lot of questions for both teenagers, the adults begin to wrestle with their own feelings on the subject revealing that even the most progressive and accepting members of society can harbor homophobia.

Gay and straight characters alike introspectively examine how society has determined how they look at themselves and others. One older gay man, for example, refrains from lavishing too much attention, affection and love on Wesley for fear of how it might be misinterpreted — not by the boy, but by the adults around him. As might be expected, Kramer’s dialogue can read like a screenplay and is used heavily to define his characters. When he goes inside their heads, however, to reveal their inner thoughts, the results can be choppy and confusing.

Ultimately, the book is a worthwhile read with poignant moments that highlight generational changes in attitudes toward gays.

Richard Kramer

Richard Kramer


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