A Novel by Sam Harris
When Theo Dalton is six years old, his hands are irreparably damaged in a horrific car accident that takes his mother’s life. Six years later, during the sweltering summer of 1968 in rural Oklahoma, Theo meets Frank, a Native American outcast, and learns that he has the ability to heal through his disfigured hands.
As he explores the extraordinary, Theo desperately attempts to remain an ordinary boy. But when word of his gift spreads, Theo is shunned by the church for doing “the devil’s work.” He is immediately swept away by his Auntie Li, and into a world which ultimately threatens his life as he saves others’.
Told from Theo’s perspective some fifty years later, it is through his work as a therapist with a broken woman that he musters the courage to relive the summer that haunts him.
The Substance of All Things is the gripping, heart-wrenching, and often humorous tale of mentors and mothers and fathers, love and redemption, prophets and charlatans, miracles and faith.
Suddenly, I felt a twitch in the palm of my left hand. Just the slightest tingle, a prickling really, so that I couldn’t quite discern if the feeling was painful or stimulating—like when water is so hot on the skin that it might be cold, the distinction cannot be made. Then my right hand twitched, sparkling to a tickle that felt like a fortune-teller following the lines of my destiny with a fingernail. The current splayed to my fingers, tiny jolts of something—something charged, even voltaic. But there was something more—a feeling inside of me that couldn’t be located in my physical body, as if a door which had always existed but had always been locked suddenly opened, slowly, to a secret place, and whatever was within engulfed me like a color I’d never seen; a feeling almost too large for my body, and my knees buckled at its enormity, but I would not fall. I knew that something beyond myself was happening like a dream and I dared not peek for fear that it would end.
Non-fiction by Sam Harris
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.
ham (noun) [hæm]
1. the hind leg of a hog, salted, smoked, and cured
2. second son of Noah
3. somebody who performs in an exaggerated showy style
-always hamming it up
Just when you thought you knew everything about ham, you discover that ham is also:
4. a reason to laugh about everyday life, and
5. an irresistible collection of humorous essays from a man who was born to entertain us.
At the key change I would always walk down a few feet for the big finish, but with the kid there, I had to climb over him so as not to step on his hands.
The next night, little Hormel edged his way down center, rose to his knees, smiled out front, and now I could hear him singing my part!
When the key change came, I had no choice but to cut him off, cold turkey, so I stepped forward onto his little hand, not giving it my full weight...well, most of it, and without letting the audience see, I shot him a death stare intended to stunt his growth.
It suddenly occurred to me that I was competing with a little kid for my place on the stage and how pathetic that was. What did that say about me? My ego? My ham-dom?
That was when I stepped on this other hand.
"Deliciously self-aware...vital and emotionally rich...sidesplitting with and hysteria."
(The Los Angeles Times)
"A vividly crafted series of essays...a charmingly candid collection."
“Reading singer-actor Harris’s essays is like having your smartest gay BFF propped up on your pillow sipping cosmos, regaling you with gossip and his keen wit.”
“The essays in Ham are both rip-roaringly funny and sentimental, drawing natural (and justified) comparisons to David Sedaris and David Rakoff.”
"New Yorker-worthy...he's got the edge."
(The New York Times)
"The show’s title is also the name of Mr. Harris’s just-published book of essays and stories. Funny, touching and cheerfully self-deprecating, the show consists of enthusiastic readings from his book with full-tilt renditions of songs....The darker side of Mr. Harris’s tale concerns his struggle with his homosexuality, his attempted suicide and his eventual self-acceptance. It is an archetypal coming-out story to which he brought an inspirational spin...every move generates excitement. The word “ham” says it all."
(Stephen Holden, The New Yorker [on the musical performance based on Ham])
"[Harris] has the writing chops to tell a good tale...entertaining and occasionally moving tales from the wilds of showbiz."
“With a wry sense of humor, Harris writes about his life through humorous essays. Touching on everything from parenting to show business, he dishes on the ups and downs of his life through a witty lens.”
“Harris is such a marvelously engaging, clever, storyteller that you’ll be enraptured by every word that comes out of his mouth. With a fine eye for detail and actor’s expressiveness, Harris paints wonderfully vivid portraits of various episodes of his life. And then there’s that still glorious, blow-the-roof-off, remarkable singing.”
“Sixteen short stories of a triumphant, tragic, and most of all, hilarious life in show business make up Sam Harris' new memoir.”
(Jackie Lyden, NPR)
“This neo-vaudevillian stage persona, Harris has opted to launch Ham the only way he knows how: extravagantly, theatrically and, most of all, big…refreshingly self-effacing observations and playful humor.”
(The Huffington Post)
"Ham is a fabulous and funny, tasty treat; sweet and savory with just right touch of tang."