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Here for It: Or, How to Save Your Soul in America (2020)

av R. Eric Thomas

MedlemmarRecensionerPopularitetGenomsnittligt betygOmnämnanden
1468144,554 (4.19)8
"R. Eric Thomas didn't know he was different until the world told him so. Everywhere he went--whether it was his rich, mostly white, suburban high school, his conservative black church, or his Ivy League college in a big city--he found himself on the outside looking in. In essays by turns hysterical and heartfelt, Eric redefines what it means to be an "other" through the lens of his own life experience. He explores the two worlds of his childhood: the barren urban landscape where his parents' house was an anomalous bright spot, and the verdant school they sent him to in white suburbia. He writes about struggling to reconcile his Christian identity with his sexuality, about the exhaustion of code-switching in college, accidentally getting famous on the internet (for the wrong reason), and the surreal experience of covering the 2016 election as well as the seismic change that came thereafter. Ultimately, Eric seeks the answer to the ever more relevant question: Is the future worth it? Why do we bother when everything seems to be getting worse? As the world continues to shift in unpredictable ways, Eric finds the answers to these questions by re-envisioning what "normal" means, and in the powerful alchemy that occurs when you at last place yourself at the center of your own story"--… (mer)
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» Se även 8 omnämnanden

Visa 1-5 av 8 (nästa | visa alla)
My favorite part of reading mystery novels is flipping ahead to the last chapter. Of course at that point I’m always like, “Who are all of these people? How did this happen? When did they go to Nova Scotia?” So I have to go back and reread and find out.

Aside from my giggle that this also has been my experience the few times I’ve tried to skip ahead in a book, it occurs to me that it’s an excellent approach to writing a memoir: This is who/where I am, how did I get here?

And that’s what R. Eric Thomas does in this collection of personal essays. He traces his life as an Other from “a little ball of potential (but oblivious) gay energy in a Baptist family from a black Baltimore neighborhood,” attending suburban white schools, to his life now as author and columnist and preacher’s husband. Most of the essays are riveting about coming-of-age experiences with race, sexual orientation and religion; a few edge toward Sedaris style. His honesty and self-deprecating wit captured me. ( )
  DetailMuse | Feb 12, 2021 |
Here for It, R. Eric Thomas, author and narrator
Although this memoir covers R. Eric Thomas’s coming of age, from his religious education in a white, private, religious school, to his acceptance of his own confused identity, and then on to his eventual interracial, same sex marriage to a minister, and the life he continues to live thereafter, it still feels like it is a work in progress, to be continued.
The essays about Eric’s search for answers and contentment, from religion to relationships were honest and revealing, and at first, it was such a relief to read a book that inspired kindness and happy thoughts, not the ugliness so apparent in the news and politics of today. His questioning manner and philosophy were thought provoking and calming, not alarming or antagonistic. He emphasized the positive, even as he introduced many negative events in his life. Some of it was hard for me to read because I am a heterosexual, from a different generation, but this gay, black man described his ideas and experiences in heartwarming and humorous prose that made it very engaging. It was hard to put it down and not read it in one sitting. He approached racism with such a light hand that it was not objectionable or angry or controversial, it was just a message that inspired the desire to change what was evil and to maintain the happy memories of what was not.
For most of the book, I loved this author and his writing style. He seemed to enjoy bringing joy and smiles to his readers. I would have given it five stars, but then, in the last chapter, he presented such an unfair hatred for President Trump, advertising his absolute partisanship in a way that was way too loud and ugly. He should have kept his politics out of this book. I had been busy recommending the book to everyone and was about to recommend it to my book group, but now, I will have to tailor the audience to whom I suggest it, because of its unfair and inaccurate criticism of a President who has done so much for America and the people of color. Saying that he wanted to watch Maxine Waters rip the President to shreds was beyond the pale, a bridge too far and very inappropriate in this book. Many readers may disagree with him. ( )
  thewanderingjew | Nov 20, 2020 |
Really enjoyed this. The stories are funny, poignant, heartfelt and sometimes a little sad. The writing is very authentic. By the end of the book, I wanted to spend an hour over a cup of coffee just listening to the author riff on stuff that I don't even care about just because it would be one of the most enjoyable hours I would have! ( )
  grandpahobo | Sep 15, 2020 |
I admit I had not heard of R. Eric Thomas or his humor column "Eric Reads the News" for ELLE.com. But so many people that I respect told me I must read his book of essays, Here For It or, How to Save Your Soul in America, and when Jenna Bush Hager picked it as one of her Read With Jenna selections, I knew I must buy it.

I'm so glad I did. Here For It had me chuckling throughout the entire book. Thomas burst on the scene when he referred to a photo of President Obama, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and Mexican President Enrique Peña Nietro as "the new interracial male cast of Sex and the City." That Facebook post went viral and ELLE.com came calling with a job offer.

From his childhood obsession of the puppet Lady Elaine Fairchilde, whom Thomas calls "essentially a reality star" because she has a royal title and is "constantly in feuds with her brother" to knowing that his mother meant business when she put on her "Betty Grey suit" (so called because a woman named Betty Grey gave it to her mother) to confront a school principal over a racial incident, Thomas shares how his growing up black, gay, and Christian in a dangerous area of Baltimore, raised by parents who sacrificed by not buying any clothes for themselves for ten years so he could attend a private school, informed the man he grew up to be.

As one of the few black students in his school, he bonded with Electra, a black transfer student from New York City. They worked together in the school library, went to prom together, and Electra shared her deep obsession with Madonna, which Thomas did not necessarily share.

Thomas ends up at Columbia University, where he spies on people entering the Queer Student Alliance meetings "with all the attention and nuance of Gladys Kravitz, the nosy neighbor from Bewitched" afraid to go inside. When the Black Student Union informed him he was to mentor a younger student, the younger student ending up being more of a mentor to him.

After leaving Columbia and returning home to go to a local college, Thomas ends up in Philadelphia, living with a man who encourages him to join the gay softball league. I found this chapter very amusing, as Thomas knew nothing at all about softball, and he ended up having to take a remedial softball class for those who needed extra help.

There are poignant sections in the book as well, with Thomas trying to find love, bringing home a boyfriend to Thanksgiving dinner to meet his truly wonderful parents, his grave upset on election night 2016, and his wedding to a pastor, which put him in mind of himself in the Whitney Houston role in The Preacher's Wife.

I love a book that makes me feel something, and Here For It gives me a lot of that. From his howlingly funny way to look at the world, to his loneliness in the search for love and friendship, R. Eric Thomas is the kind of person you want have his cell phone number so that he can text you during the day with his thoughts and emojis. Jenna Bush Hager and Adriana Trigiani were right- I needed to read Here For It. I highly recommend it. ( )
  bookchickdi | Sep 12, 2020 |
As with any book of essays, there is variation in quality. Even with the weaker essays (well, with one exception - the last essay was a dud for me) I found all of the essays amusing. Thomas is a joy to spend time with, he is funny, decent, honest, and has a strong point of view while still displaying empathy at every turn. His story about the first time he was called the B word is a perfect example of that.

A GR friend asked me this week if I ever truly laugh out loud when I am reading, and the answer is a resounding yes. I listened to this on audio (Thomas reads the book) while I was driving from Atlanta to New York along, and I truly laughed multiple times while zipping up I-81. It's a long drive, I was cranky, but laugh I did.

I recommend this if you want to remember that there are smart, thoughtful, good people in America or when you just want to spend some time with someone you totally wish you were friends with. ( )
  Narshkite | Sep 9, 2020 |
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If you suddenly and unexpectedly feel joy,
don't hesitate. Give in to it.

—MARY OLIVER, "DON'T HESITATE"
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For my parents, Bob and Judi Thomas,

and their parents, Clara and Adelita and Walter and Columbus.

For everyone further on down the line and everyone yet to come.
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For a number of years, I was under the impression that my birth was the result of an immaculate conception.
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I suddenly encountered—my blackness or my gayness or my Christianness or my Americanness and their intersections—would somehow get uncomplicated through the magic of time, like a movie montage.
Spoiler alert: they did not.
Though I do have a constant hum of low-level anxiety about organizing my time, and producing a punchline, and keeping this gig, I still feel like I should be struggling more. Remember how Carrie Bradshaw got drunk at lunch every day and stayed out till four in the morning on dates, and wrote just one weekly column but was still on the side of a bus? I'm not on a bus and I write every day, but I couldn't help but wonder if I've put enough effort in to deserve this.
But after nearly four decades on this planet and a long, nightmarish conversation about "economic anxiety" and the "forgotten working class," I am willing to entertain the idea that there are many kinds of poverty, that your mortgage can be paid on time and your children can be fed and you can still live in Poor America.
In the present, my parents will drop details about how things used to be for them with a casualness that beliew how stunning those facts are. They shared a car for many years, so my father sometimes walked for miles to get home; he worked three jobs to afford school for me and my brothers, including a paper route in the wee small hours of the morning. My mother worked tirelessly to build a nurturing and educationally vigorous home for a decade and then went back to teaching elementary school, while putting herself through grad school and taking care of her ailing parents. And, for a ten-year stretch, they didn't buy themselves clothing.
At the public school, one of my classmates bit me on the hand in protest for having to share computer time with me, and my mother rolled up on that place like a flash flood to whisk me and my lightly bleeding hand out of there.
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"R. Eric Thomas didn't know he was different until the world told him so. Everywhere he went--whether it was his rich, mostly white, suburban high school, his conservative black church, or his Ivy League college in a big city--he found himself on the outside looking in. In essays by turns hysterical and heartfelt, Eric redefines what it means to be an "other" through the lens of his own life experience. He explores the two worlds of his childhood: the barren urban landscape where his parents' house was an anomalous bright spot, and the verdant school they sent him to in white suburbia. He writes about struggling to reconcile his Christian identity with his sexuality, about the exhaustion of code-switching in college, accidentally getting famous on the internet (for the wrong reason), and the surreal experience of covering the 2016 election as well as the seismic change that came thereafter. Ultimately, Eric seeks the answer to the ever more relevant question: Is the future worth it? Why do we bother when everything seems to be getting worse? As the world continues to shift in unpredictable ways, Eric finds the answers to these questions by re-envisioning what "normal" means, and in the powerful alchemy that occurs when you at last place yourself at the center of your own story"--

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