Happy or Otherwiseby Diana Joseph
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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Meet the Author
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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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.
Excellent summer read - The stories left one waiting for more. The characters were vulnerable as well as dislikeable; everyone will recognize someone.
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.