Synopses & Reviews
Fiction. Short Stories. Denial, God, dystopia, academia, and reality TV collide in acclaimed author Elizabeth Crane's third collection of stories. YOU MUST BE THIS HAPPY TO ENTER exists in a world very much like our own but infused with more joy and magic. It's a place where the happy are jailed, the sincere cause confusion, and pop culture so seamlessly melds with real life that characters can walk right out of the television and come live with you. These stories aim to convey something fresh in literature: utter sincerity. With a trademark mix of hyperreality, humor, and heartfelt emotion, Crane asks readers to connect with the loopy ways of her characters. Even though they're occasionally severed from reality, they still seem to know something you don't about keeping upbeat in a strange and crumbling environment. Elizabeth Crane is the author of two previous story collections, and her work has been featured in numerous publications including the Chicago Reader and The Believer, as well as several anthologies.
"The two most successful stories of Crane's third collection (following All This Heavenly Glory) are also the most intimate: 'The Most Everything in the World' listens in on a husband and wife playing the what-would-you-take-to-a-deserted-island game, while 'Donovan's Closet,' about a girl with a fetish involving her boyfriend's lemon-scented closet, turns into an optimistic tale of a seemingly doomed relationship's survival. Other characters in Crane's lineup include a suburban zombie turned reality TV star ('Betty the Zombie'), a time-traveling photographer who gets arrested for being happy (the title story) and a handful of other victims and survivors of not-so-everyday life. Because of Crane's repetitive narration the book is best read piecemeal rather than straight through: 'I don't mean literally everything. Literally most things, but not everything.' In 'Promise,' a story about a woman waiting for the arrival of her adopted child, which closes the collection, Crane quips, 'I will feed you sugar.' And that might as well be Crane's promise for the collection as a whole." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Crane continues to ingeniously satirize our muddled quest for meaning in all the wrong places. Her canny pivots from realistic trivia to outer-limits bizarreness, caustic humor, and underlying belief in goodness make for magnetizing, pleasingly barbed tales of the ever-shifting zeitgeist and the unchanging nature of the human heart." Booklist
Whether breathlessly enthusiastic, serenely calm, or really concentrating right now on their personal zombie issues, Elizabeth Crane's happy cast explores the complexities behind personal satisfaction.
Denial, God, dystopia, academia, and reality TV collide in acclaimed author Crane's third story collection.
About the Author
Elizabeth Crane is the author of two previous story collections, When the Messenger is Hot and All This Heavenly Glory. Her work has also been featured in numerous publications, including Chicago Reader and The Believer, as well as several anthologies, including McSweeney's Future Dictionary of America and The Best Underground Fiction. A winner of the Chicago Public Library's 21st Century Award, Crane teaches creative writing at Northwestern's School of Continuing Studies, The School of the Art Institute, and The University of Chicago. She lives in Chicago.