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Ham: Slices of a Life: Essays and Stories [Paperback]

Sam Harris
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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Book Description

1 Oct 2014
In a collection of personal essays that are "both rip-roaringly funny and sentimental, drawing natural (and justified) comparisons to David Sedaris and David Rakoff" ("Esquire"), longtime recording artist and actor Sam Harris recounts stories of friendship, love, celebrity, and growing up and getting sober. In sixteen brilliantly observed true stories, Sam Harris emerges as a natural humorist in league with David Sedaris, Chelsea Handler, Carrie Fisher, and Steve Martin, but with a voice uniquely his own. Praised by the "Chicago Sun-Times" for his "manic, witty commentary," and with a storytelling talent "The New York Times" calls ""New Yorker"- worthy," he puts a comedic spin on full-disclosure episodes from his own colorful life. In "I Feel, You Feel" he opens for Aretha Franklin during a blizzard. "Promises" is a front-row account of Liza Minnelli's infamous wedding to "the man whose name shall go unmentioned." In "The Zoo Story" Harris desperately searches for a common bond with his rough-and-tumble four-year-old son. What better place to find painfully funny material than in growing up gay, gifted, and ambitious in the heart of the Bible belt? And that's just the first cut: From partying to parenting, from Sunday school to getting sober, these slices of "Ham" will have you laughing and wiping away salty tears in equal measure with their universal and down-to-earth appeal. After all, there's a little ham in all of us.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Gallery; Reprint edition (1 Oct 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1476733449
  • ISBN-13: 978-1476733449
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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More About the Author

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Product Description

Review

"Harris is wry, witty, bitchy, pensive, inspirational, and laugh-out-loud funny in this winning collection of essays." --Courier-Journal-Gannett Press

About the Author

Sam Harris's diversified career has run the gamut from singer and songwriter to actor on Broadway, film, and television to writer, director, and producer. His now legendary performances on TV's "Star Search" led to a multi-million selling recording career. Sam has nine studio CDs to his credit, is a Tony-nominated Broadway star ("The Life," " Grease," "The Producers"), was a series regular on the CBS series "The Class," and is the creator of the TBS television series "Down to Earth," among others. Sam lives in Los Angeles with his husband, Danny, and their child, Cooper.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars OMG Funny 9 Mar 2014
Format:Hardcover
I don't know how anyone could give this less than five stars. I literally started laughing on the first page and couldn't stop throughout the entire book. I enjoyed this book so much that at some point, when I lost my glasses, I found an old pair of readers with the nose pads missing. I decided that the sharp pain of the metal digging into my face was worth it. It was worth it for several hours. I may now be permanently scarred. Still, it was worth it.

This book reminded me of David Sedaris, the older stuff by Sedaris when I found him funnier and less dark. The tone was set from the minute Harris describes dancing harder after seeing his father's disappointment. I don't want to ruin the laughs for you, so suffice it to say, if you like David Sedaris' humor, you will LOVE this book. I did.
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Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Singer, writer, performer, director, father...Sam Harris is one of those people who consistently reinvents himself. I've been a fan of his for many years, since I took a chance on his first album when a sales rep was trying to sell it into a classical music shop in Birmingham. From then on I've collected all his albums and followed his career with interest. Although never having been a household name in the UK, his work has spread by word of mouth, as his searing interpretations of classics ranging from Over the Rainbow right through to the Star Spangled Banner have stunned many who have heard them for the first time.
Ham reflects this diverse career. Essays range from his earliest experiences of fame, the gruelling paying of dues around the clubs of his youth, his growth to celebrity BFF with Liza (and the account of the infamous wedding with stay with you for many days after first reading!) and of his course, his later incarnation as an out and proud gay man, husband and father to Danny and Cooper. Although the book jumps timelines, locations and genres, it seems to work, almost as if Sam were being interviewed on a range of topics spanning his life, because there's never any need to flip back to find out what he was referring to earlier, or who the person was he mentioned - it appears to flow seamlessly from one chat-show story to the next. An in-depth piece of literature it ain't, but an interesting addition to the Harris canon which adds some light and shade to the Hollywood glitz? Definitely.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.6 out of 5 stars  234 reviews
37 of 39 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars OMG. Funny 14 Jan 2014
By Mandy Payne - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I don't know how anyone could give this less than five stars. I literally started laughing on the first page and couldn't stop throughout the entire book. I enjoyed this book so much that at some point, when I lost my glasses, I found an old pair of readers with the nose pads missing. I decided that the sharp pain of the metal digging into my face was worth it. It was worth it for several hours. I may now be permanently scarred. Still, it was worth it.

This book reminded me of David Sedaris, the older stuff by Sedaris when I found him funnier and less dark. The tone was set from the minute Harris describes dancing harder after seeing his father's disappointment. I don't want to ruin the laughs for you, so suffice it to say, if you like David Sedaris' humor, you will LOVE this book. I did.
23 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Authentic and thoughtful and funny and well-written 16 Nov 2013
By Stacia R. Roesler - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I got this book because reviews said it is reminiscent of David Sedaris, one of my favorite authors. It is, but is also SO much more. It wasn't a book to be charged through in one sitting. To me, this book was like sitting down to a restaurant meal and discovering, before anything else is served, that the bread is unbelievable---fresh and chewy and solid. You slow down in your eating of it, to savor it (and because you don't know when you might get any more of it). Aside from his humor, and the interesting aspect of getting to see a bit into the private lives of stars, Sam is insightful and thoughtful. The chapters on growing up gay in Oklahoma, his personal journey and the psychology teacher who saved him, were both honest and a revelation to anyone outside that experience. The final chapter about the birth of his son, when he recognizes the complexity of the profound loss being experienced by the birth mother and the profound joy of he and his partner, all unfolding in the same room, underscores the compassionate reflection that is the hallmark of this book.

As a nod to other reviewers I will admit that it is not as laugh-out-loud funny as EARLY Sedaris (such as "Holidays on Ice", although I think Sedaris' latest two books have fallen flat), but Sam's stories have a poignancy and a resonance that Sedaris' lack. Sam makes his points through introspection whereas Sedaris relies on comic satire. Some of the chapters (like that on alcoholism) are so unattractive and soul-baring that one can only believe Sam is (courageously) telling the true story of his life. Similarly, the one called "liver" reminds one of the times when we are "chopped liver" to uncaring others----yet we try to make the best of a bad situation, refusing to give up. Sam's HAM is more like pork belly in the hands of Jose Andres---an upscale dish of comfort food, something akin to Garrison Keillor with a garnish of Sedaris.

Finally, Sam is brave and honest enough to say what so many of us only think: "Am I worthy enough? Do I really have talent or am I fooling myself? Can I get through this situation with any shred of my dignity intact?"....and in so doing, he validates us all. If you're looking for a laugh-out-loud funny book, this may not be for you: but if you are looking for humorous, interesting stories seasoned with honesty and poignancy, this is the book! I was sorry when the last word was read, and I hope for more. (And Sam, if you're reading this---I bet you are---I used to be a Donny fan but you sing Joseph way, way better than he does.)
19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A side of ham please 6 Jan 2014
By Carol Toscano - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
When I selected this book, I knew Sam Harris as a Broadway personality, known for his work in The Producers and other productions. He's a gifted singer and entertainer. Now, it seems, he is a gifted and entertaining writer as well.

Sam's book, Ham: Slices of a Life, is a series of funny, touching, poignant essays and stories about his life growing up gay in Oklahoma in a time when it wasn't safe to be gay in certain parts of the country, his family, work/career, and his professional relationships in the entertainment industry that include one story, in particular, about working with Aretha Franklin (and lots of juicy bits about Liza Minnelli).

This is a pretty hilarious book, or perhaps I should say memoir. Yes there are some areas of the book that are not so funny like the pain and suffering of childhood and growing up when one is different than others but he endures and creates a life for himself through work, artistry, and love. The overwhelming feeling of this work is most definitely an uplifting one. Believe me I laughed out loud (very loud) many times during the reading of this book.

Sam ties it all together in the final chapter about the birth of his son and the understanding of what a gift it was to have him while recognizing the profound loss of the birth mother with great compassion.

I was actually a bit sad that this ended and hope to have a sequel at some point in the future.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Humorous and Sobering Story 8 Feb 2014
By D. Verner - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Sam Harris narrates his life to this point in a way that is by turns hysterically funny and incredibly poignant. Growing up gay in Oklahoma in the 1960's, he must come to terms with his family, the close-minded residents of his little town and himself. He becomes a singer, and music and musical theater are his salvation. He moves among the top tier of contemporary musicians. His account of his concert in Cleveland with Aretha Franklin is priceless. Sam deals with major social issues of our time with sensitivity, humor and insight. This read might not be for everyone, but it has a lot to offer anyone with an open mind and heart.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Left wanting more ! 27 Jan 2014
By shelli - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I read Sam's book in two days. I have always found Sam funny , lovable, and very talented. His book validated everything I already knew. I loved learning what makes Sam Sam. My only complaint is I want to read more ! Well done Sam ! Thank you for sharing with us. I bought a second copy for my son !!
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