Advanced Review: Ham: Slices of a Life

Posted 29 October, 2013 by April @ The Steadfast Reader in Reviews

Advanced Review: Ham: Slices of a LifeHam: Slices of a Life by Sam Harris
Published by Simon and Schuster on October 7th 2014
Genres: Biography & Autobiography, Entertainment & Performing Arts, Essays, Form, Humor, Personal Memoirs
Pages: 304

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange honest review consideration. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

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.  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.

First, when I requested this book I thought it was a memoir of the atheist ‘apologist’ Sam Harris – it is not. It worked out okay however, because even though I didn’t know THIS Sam Harris by name I am a certified musical theatre dork. 

This book is honest and heartbreaking, entertaining and devastating all at the same time. It’s a little reminiscent of an Augusten Burroughs memoir, but not quite as funny/tragic. While Harris is painfully honest about coming to terms with his alcoholism, he leaves out the much more important part about recovery and how he ‘beat’ it. Another extraordinary part in the memoir is his suicide attempt in which his eleven year old brother saves his life by stepping on a darning needle the same night that Harris decided to attempt to take his own life.

There are sweet and funny parts of this memoir concerning his long-time partner and the adoption of their son. I also especially love the eventual love and acceptance that Harris receives from his father. 

Overall this is a decent memoir. Great for a short trip – but I’d read Augusten Burroughs, Tina Fey, Samantha Bee, or The Bloggess first. Still… good times. 


April @ The Steadfast Reader


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