Animals and celebrities share unusual relationships in these hilarious satirical stories by an award-winning contemporary writer.
Lions, Komodo dragons, dogs, monkeys, and pheasants—all have shared spotlights and tabloid headlines with celebrities such as Sharon Stone, Thomas Edison, and David Hasselhoff. Millet hilariously tweaks these unholy communions to run a stake through the heart of our fascination with famous people and pop culture in a wildly inventive collection of stories that “evoke the spectrum of human feeling and also its limits” (Publishers Weekly
, Starred Review).
While in so much fiction animals exist as symbols of good and evil or as author stand-ins, they represent nothing but themselves in Millet's ruthlessly lucid prose. Implacable in their actions, the animals in Millet’s spiraling fictional riffs and flounces show up their humans as bloated with foolishness yet curiously vulnerable, as in a tour-de-force, Kabbalah-infused interior monologue by Madonna after she shoots a pheasant on her Scottish estate. Millet treads newly imaginative territory with these charismatic tales.
“These incredibly crafted stories, with their rare intelligence, humor, and empathy, describe the furious collision of nature and science, man and animal, everyday citizen and celebrity, fact and fiction. Lydia Millet’s writing sparkles with urgent brilliance.” —Joe Meno
A “supremely wacky [and] astute” novel by a PEN Award winner and Pulitzer Prize finalist (The Washington Post
In Los Angeles, Dean Decetes, a pornographer with messianic delusions, spins out of control, spending his time drinking himself into a stupor, getting beaten up by strangers he’s recklessly insulted, stealing credit cards to pay for sex, being arrested, begging favors, and mounting a PR campaign to make himself famous with the help of a loyal foot soldier—a porn-loving midget he met in jail.
Meanwhile his pious, romantic spinster sister, who reluctantly keeps house for him, busies herself writing quasi-religious love notes to the boss she worships, and two of her coworkers at the statistics company—an obsessive-compulsive Christian Scientist in a twisted marriage and a promiscuous, depressed blond bombshell—become enmeshed in her life as she dreams of ridding herself of her freeloading brother and being carried away on a white horse by her employer.
Then a teenage math genius runs away from home after her mother humiliates her in school, and hooks up at a bar with Decetes’s suicidal editor. Told from five points of view, over three wild days in which these lives intersect, this is a rollickingly funny yet heart-wrenching novel from one of today’s most acclaimed literary voices.
“Taken at surface level, its presentation of over-the-top characters placed in bizarre situations is supremely wacky, but underneath is an astute examination of how contemporary society fosters alienation and loneliness so acute that it takes outsized actions to allow any possibility of driving the demons away.” —The Washington Post
At the opening of My Happy Life,
the unnamed narrator has been abandoned in a locked room of a deserted mental hospital. She hasn't seen the nice man who brings her food in days; so she's eaten the soap, the toothpaste, and even tried to eat the plaster on her walls a dietary adventure that ended none too well. This woman's story, covering decades and spanning continents, is tragic, yet she is curiously at peace, even happy. Despite a lifetime of neglect, physical abuse, and loss, she's incapable of perceiving slight or injury. She has infinite faith in the goodwill of others, loves even her enemies, and finds grace and communion in places most people wouldn't dare to brave. Lauded by both critics and readers, My Happy Life
consistently surprises and excites with its original vision of a unique woman whose rich interior life protects her from the horrors of external reality.