Synopses & Reviews
His freshman year of college, Alex Lemon was supposed to be the star catcher on the Macalester College baseball team. He was the boy getting every girl, the hard-partying kid who everyone called Happy, often without even knowing his real name. In the spring of 1997, he had his first stroke.
For two years Lemon coped with his deteriorating health by sinking deeper into alcohol and drug abuse. His charming and carefree exterior masked his self-destructive and sometimes cruel behavior as he endured two more brain bleeds and a crippling depression. After undergoing brain surgery, he is nursed back to health by his free-spirited artist mother, who once again teaches him to stand on his own.
Alive with unexpected humor and sensuality, Happy is a hypnotic self-portrait of a young man confronting the wreckage of his own body; it is also the deeply moving story of a mother's redemptive and healing powers. Alex Lemon's Technicolor sentences pop and sing as he writes about survival — of the body and of the human spirit.
"In this honest memoir, Lemon, the author of two collections of poetry (Mosquito; Hallelujah Blackout), was a carefree, hard partying, baseball-playing college student at Macalester College in Minnesota in 1997 when he suffered a stroke and later two brain bleeds. Readers are swept along on his rough ride during the next two years, through his nasty travails of frenetic drug and alcohol use, terribly misguided attempts to cope with his deteriorating and frightening condition. Often he is mean and uncaring to those around him; at other times he is confused and scared. He drops into a dark depression, a cruel fate for a young man, who was known on campus by the nickname of Happy. Ultimately, he undergoes brain surgery. Lemon offers a raw and honest narration of his college life, his relationships with girlfriends and family members, especially his loving and quirky mother. He dissects his repressed inner demons and recounts his continual struggle to regain his emotional and physical health following his operation. The result is a voltaic narrative that is alternately horrifying and touching." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"A page-turner on par with the best thrillers....Lemon's exquisite prose blasts us out of our own time, heart, brain, and body into his, making an acute empathy possible. Read this and weep, laugh, weep." Library Journal (Editors' Pick)
"The pyrotechnic prose of Alex Lemon's memoir creates an electrifying portrait of a body in crisis, and the way the soul is inexorably, reluctantly, dragged along....If ever a book was written in blood, it is this one." Nick Flynn, author of Another Bullshit Night in Suck City
"Alex Lemon takes his reader inside the terror and strangeness of illness — and gives us, along the way, a loving portrait of a devoted, wonderfully nutty mother. Lemon is a brave, headlong writer, and he captures the life of the body with vivid and memorable intensity." Mark Doty, author of Dog Years and Fire to Fire
"Happy unfurls like gauze, revealing not a wound, but a series of intricate and beautiful scars. Alex reminds us that though we can't make it through this life unscathed, we can make it through transformed." Robin Romm, author of The Mercy Papers and The Mother Garden
Happy is poet Lemon's electrifying memoir about his struggles with his past, his addictions, and the wreckage of his body after his first stroke at the age of 19.
About the Author
Alex Lemon was born in Iowa, and lives in Ft. Worth, Texas. He is the author of two collections of poetry, Mosquito (Tin House Books) and Hallelujah Blackout (Milkweed Editions), and is the recipient of a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts.