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Poster for Harvard Book Store presents Eric Orner

Harvard Book Store presents Eric Orner

Coming on May 6

Run Time: 105 min.

Harvard Book Store Presents:

Eric Orner


The Life and Times
of Barney Frank

in conversation with BARNEY FRANK

Harvard Book Store welcomes ERIC ORNER—acclaimed author of The Mostly Unfabulous Social Life of Ethan Green and former Congressional aide to Barney Frank—for a discussion of his new book Smahtguy: The Life and Times of Barney Frank. He will be joined in conversation by the subject of the book, legendary former US Congressman BARNEY FRANK.

A Return to In-Person Events

Harvard Book Store is excited to re-introduce in-person programming this season. To ensure the safety and comfort of everyone in attendance, the following Covid-19 safety protocols will be in place at all of our Brattle Theatre events until further notice:

  • Face coverings are required of all staff and attendees when inside the venue. Masks must snugly cover nose and mouth. At venues where refreshments are served, attendees may briefly unmask when actively eating or drinking.
  • Attendance is capped so as to allow for some social distancing in the venue.

For the time being, we will not be holding author signings at these events, in order to limit close contact. When possible, we will have pre-signed books available for purchase on-site.


There are two ticket options available for this event.

Book-Included Ticket: Includes admission for one and one copy of Smahtguy.

Admission-Only Ticket: Includes admission for one.

About Smahtguy

What are the odds that a disheveled, zaftig, closeted kid with the thickest of Jersey accents might wind up running Boston on behalf of a storied Irish Catholic political machine, drafting the nation’s first gay rights laws, reforming Wall Street after the Great Recession, and finding love, after a lifetime assuming that he couldn’t and wouldn’t?

In Smahtguy: The Life and Times of Barney Frank, one of America’s first out members of Congress and a gay and civil rights crusader for an era is confirmed as a hero of our age. But more than a biography of an indispensable LGBTQ pioneer, this funny, beautifully rendered, warts-and-all graphic account reveals the down-and-dirty inner workings of Boston and DC politics.

As Frank’s longtime staff counsel and press secretary, Eric Orner lends his first-hand perspective to this extraordinary work of history, paying tribute to the mighty striving of committed liberals to defend ordinary Americans from an assault on their shared society.

Praise for Smahtguy

Smahtguy restored my battered faith in the American political process. Barney Frank’s relish for the thankless work of governance is deeply inspiring, all the more so because it came at the expense of his personal life. Orner’s masterful visual storytelling, inexhaustible graphic detail, and witty vignettes makes all the procedural nitty gritty read like a thriller.” ―Alison Bechdel, author of The Secret to Superhuman Strength

Smahtguy is the story of Barney Frank but also the story of the transformation of America. Eric Orner’s cartooning captures both the frenetic energy of Frank’s times and the person he was: a young man willing to work for civil rights that didn’t include him, who grew to fight not just for others but for himself, too. Unforgettable, complicated, and powerful, like the man himself.” ―Alexander Chee, author of How to Write an Autobiographical Novel

“Gasp and guffaw at the amazing life story of Barney Frank, a mild-mannered graduate student from Jersey who is transformed into a liberal superhero, struggling to save the world as it blunders from crisis to crisis. Smahtguy is (literally!) the great civic-minded comic book of our time.” ―Tom Frank, author of The People, No

Barney Frank

Barney Frank represented the Fourth Congressional District of Massachusetts for more than three decades and chaired the House Financial Services Committee from 2007 to 2011. He is the author of two books: Speaking Frankly and Frank: From the Great Society to Same Sex Marriage. He is a regular commentator on MSNBC and divides his time between a home with his husband near Portland, Maine, and his apartment in Newton, Massachusetts.

Photo Credit: Michael Halsband

Eric Orner

Eric Orner is a former Congressional aide to Barney Frank and the acclaimed author of The Mostly Unfabulous Social Life of Ethan Green, one of the country’s first and longest-running gay comic strips. Orner has also published comic strips and illustrations in the Washington Post, the Boston Globe, the San Francisco Chronicle, and the New Republic. Orner lives in New York and Smahtguy is his first graphic novel.

Photo Credit: Stella Johnson

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