Something Like Happy by John Burnside

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Happiness is the subject that ties the collection together. In other hands, this could become sentimental. But Mr Burnside, with only a few exceptions, never allows that to happen.
-The Economist

Synopsis

In these remarkable stories, John Burnside takes us into the lives of men and women trapped in marriage, ensnared by drink, diminished by disappointment; all kinds of women, all kinds of men - lonely, unfaithful, dying - driving empty roads at night. These are people for whom the idea of 'home' has become increasingly intangible, hard to believe - and happiness, or grace, or freedom, all now seem to belong in some kind of dream, or a fable they might have read in a children's picture book. As he says in one story, 'All a man has is his work and his sense of himself, all the secret life he holds inside that nobody else can know.' But in each of these normal, damaged lives, we are shown something extraordinary: a dogged belief in some kind of hope or beauty that flies in the face of all reason and is, as a result, both transfiguring and heart-rending. John Burnside is unique in contemporary British letters: he is one of our best living poets, but he is also a thrillingly talented writer of fiction. These exquisitely written pieces, each weighted so perfectly, opens up the whole wound of a life in one moment - and each of these twelve short stories carries the freight and density of a great novel. Scottish Book of the Year 2013.
 

About John Burnside

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John Burnside's last two books were the novel, A Summer of Drowning, shortlisted for the 2011 Costa Prize, and his poetry collection, Black Cat Bone, which won both the 2011 Forward Prize and the T.S. Eliot Prize for Poetry.
 
Published January 1, 2013 by Jonathan Cape. 243 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction. Fiction
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Critic reviews for Something Like Happy
All: 2 | Positive: 2 | Negative: 0

Guardian

Above average
Reviewed by Stuart Kelly on Jan 19 2013

...his first collection of short stories since Burning Elvis, puts the reader into familiarly unfamiliar territory, but in an unsettling way. For those unacquainted with his sublimely terrifying oeuvre, this is the place to start.

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The Economist

Good
on Jan 12 2013

Happiness is the subject that ties the collection together. In other hands, this could become sentimental. But Mr Burnside, with only a few exceptions, never allows that to happen.

Read Full Review of Something Like Happy | See more reviews from The Economist

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