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Happiness Is A Chemical In The Brain: Stories (2012)

by Lucia Perillo(Favorite Author)
3.37 of 5 Votes: 1
0393083535 (ISBN13: 9780393083538)
W. W. Norton & Company
review 1: I am growing more fond of short story collections by the week it seems. I think I have confessed before that short stories were hard for me to get into. Most often when I read I want a fully immersive experience and it always seemed to me that the long form of a novel allows for immersion better than the short form of a story. I had some idea that by being with a set of characters in a particular place for a longer time I would become more immersed in their world and the happenings there. But what I am finding by reading really good short stories is that an author can write characters that are just as rich and settings as clearly rendered as in a good novel. And then stories have the added benefit that they do not grow tiresome. It seems to me that it helps if the author i... mores a poet as these folks have honed their wordsmithing skills to a very fine point. This collection by Lucia Perillo is a wonderful example of exactly that. All of the stories here are set in the Pacific Northwest and most have a melancholy greyness about them that seems suited to the place. From alcoholics to addicts to abused women and a woman who hosts her own pre-suicide party, it is not the bubbly collection one might expect from a book with happiness in the title and dandelions on the cover. Yes, the stories are often funny, but in the style of the dark humor of permeates so much of adult life. As a narrator, MacDuffie does a wonderful job straddling that line between humor and despair, hope and small satisfactions. And I have a hunch that these characters and the lessons they had to teach about living a life that is adequate if not exquisite will be with me a good long while.
review 2: My gut rating was 3.5 so I rounded it up. I love short stories and Happiness Is a Chemical in the Brain gave raw and real glimpses of life. The stories of the recovering alcoholic housewife who was addicted to vacuum salesmen and the stories of the boy who caught a fish, linger with me. Louisa and her sister where the most developed but I somehow did not like how the three different stories about them fit together. A few of stories were forgettable completely. The endings sometimes were a little to wrapped up. i.e. "The first step meant finding Sam, and to do that he had to get down on his knees." I especially cringed at that line. I prefer the endings that are left unspoken, like "Men Giving Money, Women Yelling". less
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Loved this collection. If you are a Raymond Carver fan I believe you will too.
Trying out an audio book from the Wisconsin Digital Library
It was entertaining, but I could take it or leave it.
Wow ... !
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