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In this bleak, sad and occasionally funny memoir, Joseph (Happy or Otherwise) explores life through the lens of the male relationships, both human and canine, woven into her life. It is not an easy task. She admits she's never really been part of a female circle of friends ("I'm a girly girl who enjoys a good fart joke") and ponders why this is so. Maybe it's because she grew up with brothers; maybe it's because her father was such a mysterious and godlike presence in her life that she spent most of her time seeking out male approval. Joseph adeptly scrutinizes the often opposing female and male sensibilities. She has a great eye for telling details that complete a character or scene. She routinely ends with men who don't suit her, or places she dislikes. "They didn't know I didn't belong at any gathering where people took tidy sips of wine, then remarked upon its bouquet or nibbled on stuffed mushrooms or spread a thin layer of hummus across pita bread." Whether describing a friendship with her alcoholic boss; her younger brother, a cop nicknamed Bye-Bye; or her father, who never reads books for pleasure but always reads the newspaper, Joseph strives to tell the straight story while not ignoring the potholes along the way. (Mar.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.