Happy or Otherwise

( 3 )

Overview

The people in Diana Joseph's Happy or Otherwise are looking for ways to live through hurt, some of it passed on like a family heirloom, some of it self-inflicted. Tabbitha, the adult daughter in "Bloodlines," recounts her brother's death and her grieving father's violent response to it. Her memory is compassionate, but unflinched as she reflects on how, even twenty years later, "you don't forget." In "Windows and Words," Leslie, a college senior, falls for a guy who "used philosophy as a form of foreplay." In ...
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Overview

The people in Diana Joseph's Happy or Otherwise are looking for ways to live through hurt, some of it passed on like a family heirloom, some of it self-inflicted. Tabbitha, the adult daughter in "Bloodlines," recounts her brother's death and her grieving father's violent response to it. Her memory is compassionate, but unflinched as she reflects on how, even twenty years later, "you don't forget." In "Windows and Words," Leslie, a college senior, falls for a guy who "used philosophy as a form of foreplay." In turn, she decides, "Acting on desire is just another way to procrastinate." The book also explores how people define themselves through the stories they tell: the title character of "Schandorsky's Mother" is writing a poem that "chronicles her relationship" with the father her son has never known. "So someday you'll understand," she tells the puzzled boy. In "Approximate to Salvation," a daughter's claim that a stranger raped her covers up a painful truth: her father's attempt to seduce her. The tales concocted by the narrator of "Naming Stories" reveal her intense longing for a sense of self: "Sometimes, I told this story," she says, "I was conceived at Woodstock, in the rain, the music, the mud, on the night of a full moon." Another character, Sookey, in "Expatriates," believes "confessing would feel like love." With prose that is sharp, lyrical, and image-driven, Happy or Otherwise is a fierce book with a lot of funny parts.
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What People Are Saying

Gordon Weaver
"Diana Joseph's debut collection is a mix of captivating voices. These are characters readers will love, hate, admire, and despise. Joseph writes with humor, passion, and respect for the craft. To read these stories is to experience empathy for humanity."
Michael Martone
"Diana Joseph's stories are ripe with nuance. Her domestic landscape, while intimately scaled, contain every typographical feature found in the most rugged mountain chain. In her hands, a minute gesture of separation reads as vibrant as the most dramatic continental divide."
Melanie Rae Thon
"Who will save you? In Diana Joseph's stunning collection, this question burns at the heart of every story. the child who rescues his older sister grows up to be a man who seduces his daughter. A woman who cannot bear to part from her son fro the summer dopes him with cough syrup to steal a night of peace and passion with her new lover. Through all her people—an Amish boy, and Italian father, a motherless girl—Diana Joseph exposes the desperation and humor of our human desires. She leads us into the wilderness where the search for love tempts us to commit the most intimate betrayals."
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780887483967
  • Publisher: Carnegie-Mellon University Press
  • Publication date: 8/28/2003
  • Series: Carnegie Mellon Short Fiction Series
  • Pages: 208
  • Sales rank: 1,050,163
  • Product dimensions: 5.14 (w) x 8.24 (h) x 0.56 (d)

Meet the Author

Diana Joseph
DIANA JOSEPH was born and raised in western Pennsylvania. She bussed tables in a smorgasbord, worked at a pizza parlor, in a strawberry field, a pallet shop, a public library, and as a waitress and short order cook. She currently lives in Grand Junction, Colorado, where she edits Pinyon Press and teaches creative writing at Mesa State College.
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Table of Contents

Bloodlines
Naming Stories
Windows and Words
Approximate to Salvation
Sick Child
Expatriates
The Fifth Mrs. Hughes
Schandorsky's Mother
Many Will Enter, Few Will Win
If I Close Them
What Remains
Shared and Stolen
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 3 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 10, 2003

    Chick Fiction at its Finest

    This book is one for the ladies. Although I'm a boy, I loved it too. Great characters with original voices. Well-written, no overexposition.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 28, 2003

    EVERY STORY HAS SOMEONE YOU'LL RECOGNIZE

    Excellent summer read - The stories left one waiting for more. The characters were vulnerable as well as dislikeable; everyone will recognize someone.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 19, 2003

    Funny and sad

    One of Diana Joseph's students recommended this book to me saying it was great. It is! It's a collection of short stories. My favorite is 'Windows and Words,' about a girl who gets pregnant while she's still in college. My favorite line is 'Acting on desire, Leslie thought, is just another way to procrastinate.' Other stories are funny, too, but some are tragic. 'Bloodlines' is very short, but the material could easy be turned into a novel. It's about a boy who's killed by a horse and how his family responds. 'Naming Stories,' about a girl who learns she's adopted, is hilarious! I reccomend this book to anyone who likes fiction by Lorrie Moore.

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