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Happiness Is a Chemical in the Brain: Stories

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Happiness Is a Chemical in the Brain: Stories Cover

 

Awards

Staff Pick

Perillo has already won (and broken) our hearts through her poetry, but now she takes it up a notch with an absolutely flawless book of short stories. This gathering is raw, every entry reflecting pieces of life we can relate to. Not since Donald Ray Pollock's Knockemstiff has a short-story collection packed such a powerful punch.
Recommended by Donna, Powells.com

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

Populating a small town in the Pacific Northwest, the characters in Lucia Perillo's story collection all resist giving the world what it expects of them and are surprised when the world comes roaring back.

An addict trapped in a country house becomes obsessed with vacuum cleaners and the people who sell them door-to-door. An abandoned woman seeks consolation in tales of armed robbery told by one of her fellow suburban housewives. An accidental mother struggles to answer her daughter's badgering about her paternity. And in three stories readers meet Louisa, a woman with Down syndrome who serves as an accomplice to her younger sister's sexual exploits and her aging mother's fantasies of revenge.

Together, Happiness Is a Chemical in the Brain is a sharp-edged, witty testament to the ambivalence of emotions, the way they pull in directions that often cancel one another out or twist their subjects into knots. In lyrical prose, Perillo draws on her training as a naturalist and a poet to map the terrain of the comic and the tragic, asking how we draw the boundaries between these two zones. What's funny, what's heartbreaking, and who gets to decide?

Review:

"MacArthur Fellow and Pulitzer Prize-nominated poet Perillo debuts a work of fiction in a lyrical short story collection that reveals a genius for plot and metaphor. The collection's 14 stories take place in the Pacific Northwest and chart a broad emotional arc: the sisters of 'Cavalcade of the Old West,' one subdued and the other sexually promiscuous, recall their youth before their temperaments drove them into different lives; a son receives the ashes of his emotionally distant father and struggles to perform a cathartic send-off, in 'Ashes'; and 'Big-Dot Day' finds a hapless boy dragged cross-country by his mother and her latest boyfriend. Throughout, Perillo shows a supple imagination and wit as she explores fate and its ironies: women caught in cycles of self-destruction; lovers wading through the ambiguities of erotic life; characters coming to terms with mortality. Varying in style and form, with shifts from first- to third- to second-person, Perillo tests the boundaries of the short story form, all while creating interesting characters and dynamic narratives. Though the prevailing tone is one of ironic melancholy, a subtle but sustaining sense of hope prevails. Perillo (Inseminating the Elephant) strikes a glorious balance between wryly intelligent prose and emotional force, recalling Alice Munro at her best. This volume's vibrant stories demonstrate the full potential of the short story form when put in the hands of a true artist." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Review:

"Lucia Perillo isn't just a strikingly original poet; she's a top-notch fiction writer as well. The stories in this bleakly funny and harrowing collection are reminiscent of both Raymond Carver and Denis Johnson, but the vision than animates them is Perillo's own, unique and unmistakable." Tom Perrotta

Review:

"Emotionally unflinching stories of considerable power, wonder and humor." Kirkus Reviews, starred review

Review:

"Happiness is full of straightforward sentences in straightforward narratives, as you might expect from someone who understands the mechanics of storytelling but hasn't yet written much fiction." Adam Plunkett

Synopsis:

A tough-minded collection of stories that boldly announces the fiction debut of a Pulitzer Prize-nominated poet and MacArthur Fellow.

Synopsis:

A stunning debut from an award-winning poet.

About the Author

Lucia Perillo has published five books of poetry and a collection of essays, and was the finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Inseminating the Elephant. This is her first work of fiction. She lives in Olympia, Washington.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 1 comment:

donna kane, April 27, 2012 (view all comments by donna kane)
Lucia Perillo has already won (& broken) our hearts through her poetry, but now she takes it up a notch, blossoming into a flawless collection of incredible short stories. This collection is raw, yet so polished it reflects pieces of you can relate to in every entry. Not since Donald Ray Pollock's Knockemstiff has a gathering of stories packed themselves into one such powerful punch.


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Product Details

ISBN:
9780393083538
Author:
Perillo, Lucia
Publisher:
W. W. Norton & Company
Subject:
Literary
Subject:
Literature-A to Z
Publication Date:
20120531
Binding:
HARDCOVER
Language:
English
Pages:
224
Dimensions:
8.25 x 5.5 in

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Related Subjects


Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z
Fiction and Poetry » Literature » Debut Fiction

Happiness Is a Chemical in the Brain: Stories Used Hardcover
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$23.95 In Stock
Product details 224 pages W. W. Norton & Company - English 9780393083538 Reviews:
"Staff Pick" by ,

Perillo has already won (and broken) our hearts through her poetry, but now she takes it up a notch with an absolutely flawless book of short stories. This gathering is raw, every entry reflecting pieces of life we can relate to. Not since Donald Ray Pollock's Knockemstiff has a short-story collection packed such a powerful punch.

"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "MacArthur Fellow and Pulitzer Prize-nominated poet Perillo debuts a work of fiction in a lyrical short story collection that reveals a genius for plot and metaphor. The collection's 14 stories take place in the Pacific Northwest and chart a broad emotional arc: the sisters of 'Cavalcade of the Old West,' one subdued and the other sexually promiscuous, recall their youth before their temperaments drove them into different lives; a son receives the ashes of his emotionally distant father and struggles to perform a cathartic send-off, in 'Ashes'; and 'Big-Dot Day' finds a hapless boy dragged cross-country by his mother and her latest boyfriend. Throughout, Perillo shows a supple imagination and wit as she explores fate and its ironies: women caught in cycles of self-destruction; lovers wading through the ambiguities of erotic life; characters coming to terms with mortality. Varying in style and form, with shifts from first- to third- to second-person, Perillo tests the boundaries of the short story form, all while creating interesting characters and dynamic narratives. Though the prevailing tone is one of ironic melancholy, a subtle but sustaining sense of hope prevails. Perillo (Inseminating the Elephant) strikes a glorious balance between wryly intelligent prose and emotional force, recalling Alice Munro at her best. This volume's vibrant stories demonstrate the full potential of the short story form when put in the hands of a true artist." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"Review" by , "Lucia Perillo isn't just a strikingly original poet; she's a top-notch fiction writer as well. The stories in this bleakly funny and harrowing collection are reminiscent of both Raymond Carver and Denis Johnson, but the vision than animates them is Perillo's own, unique and unmistakable."
"Review" by , "Emotionally unflinching stories of considerable power, wonder and humor."
"Review" by , "Happiness is full of straightforward sentences in straightforward narratives, as you might expect from someone who understands the mechanics of storytelling but hasn't yet written much fiction."
"Synopsis" by , A tough-minded collection of stories that boldly announces the fiction debut of a Pulitzer Prize-nominated poet and MacArthur Fellow.
"Synopsis" by , A stunning debut from an award-winning poet.
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