Reviews

Why Are You So Sad? by Jason Porter

Raymond Champs, a furniture manual illustrator for an international furniture company (akin to Ikea), has the world figured out (please see how I feel about Ikea here). As a species, we’re all suffering from severe clinical depression. We just don’t know it. He sets out to prove it – statistically and methodically. He starts with a survey and has big plans to ask the president to provide some top notch scientists to help with the data he accumulates. Sure, Ray’s wife isn’t supportive and his job forces him to take a leave of absence, but he’s going to get it done. And he’s right about societal decline. Isn’t he?

Sad

Why Are You So Sad?* by Jason Porter is a satirical look at the corporate environment, happiness, and the American way.  It’s an odd little novel and a difficult story to write about, it actually has me at a loss for words (that alone distinguishes it). There’s not much plot, it mostly consists of Ray’s musings and the answers to the survey he creates. The survey responses are by far the highlight of the book. It’s over the top. It’s sardonic. It’s funny. It’s also a little sad.

Todd Langley, an associate in Quantity Assurance, wrote:

I am very happy. I have a family. I have a sweet car. I have a hot wife and a nice gun. I have a daughter who will one day be hot like her mother. I go to a great church. And a lot of people would kill for my job (and my hot wife – ha!). I am very happy. Who wouldn’t be?

and

Are you for the chemical elimination of all things painful?

It sounds good on paper, but dulling the painful would dull the soft, would dull the pretty, would dull the surprising, would dull the songs, would dull the laughter, and this dulling would end up in a sum that registered on the color scale as a beige that caused birth defects in lab mice. But yes, I like pills.

Is that what happiness comes down to? A hot spouse, a future hot child, a good job, a nice car, and lovely house? I’d like to think not, but I bet if you’d asked around you if would be truer than you’d think. Which is the point, of course. If you like satire and you want to laugh (so as not to cry), give it a shot. This is not exactly a light book (unless you want it to be!), but it is enjoyable. At the very least, you’ll be happy you don’t have a boss like Ray’s. Or that you’re not married to him. 3.5/5 (edging towards four if I’m in the right mood).

Just for fun, here are a few of the questions from Ray’s survey (my answers are in parenthesis).

  • Are you having an affair? (Absolutely… Define affair?)
  • When was the last time you felt happy? (Last night.)
  • Was it a true, pure happy or a relative happy? (Everything’s relative.)
  • Are you similar to the “you” you thought you would be become when as a child you imagined you future self?  (Since I’m neither Indiana Jones nor John Constantine, I’d say no, though to be fair I also spent a goodly amount of time wanting to be Dana Scully – which also didn’t happen.)
  • If you were a day of the week, would you be Monday or Wednesday? (I would be a Wednesday night in July.)
  • What does it feel like to get out of bed in the morning? (What did I do the night before?)
  • Do you realize you have on average another 11,000 to 18,250 mornings of looking in the mirror and wondering if people will find you attractive? (Indeed I do. That would be why I spend very little time looking in the mirror.)
  • Do you believe in God? (See Neil deGrasse Tyson.)
  • Are you for the chemical elimination of all things painful? (Aside from indoor plumbing and hot water, it one of the reasons I’m pleased to live in this century – so yes.)

So…why are you so sad? Or conversely, why are you so happy? Are you a glass half empty or a glass half full kind of person? This may come as a shock – or not – but I am a glass half empty kind of girl (but a happy one, usually).

Chinese

This one’s pretty limited on the food references. As I’m not one for sauerkraut (as in ever, it’s right up there with guacamole and olives on the list of things I’ll never eat), I’m going to go with Chinese takeout. While you could make this at home, it’ll always be better if someone else does (albeit probably less healthy). If you’re in Denver, head to Imperial Chinese.

*I received a review copy of this novel in exchange for my honest opinion.

Image found here (original source unknown).

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  • http://twitter.com/_Ciska_ Ciska (@_Ciska_)

    This sounds like a fun read with an attempt to make people aware of what they have or miss.

    Are you having an affair? ~ many depending on definition
    When was the last time you felt happy? ~this morning
    Was it a true, pure happy or a relative happy? ~totally agree with “Everything’s relative.”
    Are you similar to the “you” you thought you would be become when as a child you imagined you future self? Probably not though I did plan on reading a lot as an adult and am trying to hold on to that
    If you were a day of the week, would you be Monday or Wednesday? Probably a Monday, fresh start 😉
    What does it feel like to get out of bed in the morning? Cold most of the time
    Do you realize you have on average another 11,000 to 18,250 mornings of looking in the mirror and wondering if people will find you attractive? no, should I start caring?
    Do you believe in God? no
    Are you for the chemical elimination of all things painful? Hahaha they tried and failed miserably so am done with that project.

    • http://www.fourthstreetreview.com Rory

      Everything really is relative. Things make much more sense when they are in context.

      My work week ends on Wednesday. I like the idea of being relaxed and prepared for a day off.

      It is a fun book. I definitely recommend it if the premise sounds interesting to you.

  • http://booksaremyfavouriteandbest.wordpress.com booksaremyfavouriteandbest

    Hang on. How can you not eat guacamole? Even if there’s a guacamole guy making it at your table in a Mexican joint?

    • http://www.fourthstreetreview.com Rory

      I’m a texture person and the texture of guacamole really grosses me out (for lack of a better word). If I’m at a Mexican place I’m more likely to go for the fresh salsa. I also cannot eat ripe bananas (I have to eat green if I’m going to eat them or cottage cheese. And the saddest thing, I’m severely lactose intolerant – at least this is treatable (when I remember).

      • http://booksaremyfavouriteandbest.wordpress.com booksaremyfavouriteandbest

        I get the texture thing. Which is why I don’t eat mangoes.

        No lactose…does that rule you out of most cheese? #lordy

  • http://btweenthecovers.com/ Heather

    I’m a glass half full girl, for the most part. I’m always looking for the silver lining. And I’m happy most of the time. I’m pretty sure I want to read this book.

    • http://www.fourthstreetreview.com Rory

      I am glass half empty, but in a happy way. Even though that sounds sort of impossible, it’s true. I prefer to think of glass half empty as realistic. I think you’d like this one. Occasionally he carries on the joke a little too long, but mostly it’s spot on.

  • http://www.livingawritinglife.blogspot.com Jennine G.

    I will read this one! I just discussed satire with students and it is my weak point for sure. And this topic intrigues me because I think our society looks to the wrong places to be happy/content. I don’t even think happiness should be a goal of life…or at least not what we as a culture typically define as happiness. So satire on this topic is right up my alley.

    • http://www.fourthstreetreview.com Rory

      I do think happiness should be a goal in life, but like you, I think people look at the wrong things (things being a problem first and foremost) to making them happy.

      You might like this one, it’s very good as far as satire goes.

      • http://www.livingawritinglife.blogspot.com Jennine G.

        Yes, that’s pretty much what I meant. I was able to still request it on NetGalley, so we’ll see. But if not, I am first in line for it on the swap site, which means it costs me like $3!

  • http://rosemaryandreadingglasses.wordpress.com Carolyn O

    I’m so reading this.

    • http://www.fourthstreetreview.com Rory

      Do it. My job is done now.

  • http://wordsforworms.wordpress.com Words for Worms

    I tend to be a glass half empty girl, at least when it comes to my own situations. I can be wonderfully optimistic when it comes to other people’s lives though.

    • http://www.fourthstreetreview.com Rory

      Hey, me too! I’m fabulous at making other people feel better. Myself…not so much.

  • http://twitter.com/missbonnie13 Bonnie (@missbonnie13)

    I wanted to be Dana Scully when I was a kid too. High-five to that.
    I’m constantly accused of being a negative, unhappy type person but I personally just like to think of myself as realistic is that so wrong?

    • http://picturemereading.wordpress.com Alisa Selene

      Me too! Honestly I am so often right because things never go perfectly like people imagine they will! Lol

    • http://www.fourthstreetreview.com Rory

      Hmm…brilliant doctor, works at the FBI, sleeps with Mulder. What’s not to want?

      I think some people are not naturally happy (read: bubbly) and I am one of those. I am also a realist. It takes a lot of work for me to be traditionally happy. I tend to think of myself as more ambivalent. So…I don’t think it’s wrong, but I’m the same way so I wouldn’t know. 😉

  • http://picturemereading.wordpress.com Alisa Selene

    Rofl! Me too on so many points..lol I can’t remember what I wanted to be when I was little…I think Shera princess of power..glad I am not because that costume was ridiculous..who fights the forces of evil irl with gogo boots?

    • http://www.fourthstreetreview.com Rory

      That’s an image. Gogo boots. I think fighting evil would be a lot more fun that way.

      I also wanted to be a ninja turtle.

  • http://doingdeweydecimal.wordpress.com DoingDewey

    Haha, I love your survey answers! I’m definitely a glass half full kind of person. It’s generally a good thing because I’m often happy, but also means I’m less likely to notice things I can do to make my life better than my more glass-half full minded boyfriend.

    • http://doingdeweydecimal.wordpress.com DoingDewey

      Oops, more glass half empty… otherwise, that just doesn’t make sense :)

      • http://www.fourthstreetreview.com Rory

        It works out that way for my partner and I as well. He’s a happy go lucky, everything will work out kind of guy. I’m not. Somehow we’ve found a good balance.

  • http://loveatfirstbook.com Rebecca Scaglione – Love at First Book

    Interesting. I’m a fan of making changes if you’re not happy. Like if you think something sucks or you are sad, you’re allowed to complain and be upset but then you need to make a change – change something. Otherwise you’ll just still be sad. But in regards to the book, it does sounds unique. I don’t know if I would seek it out specifically, but I do think I’d give it a chance if I found a copy at the library.

  • http://sarahsaysread.com Sarah Says Read

    Mmmmm Chinese! This book sounds really weird… but maybe good?

    Whatever, fun questions! Here are my answers….

    Are you having an affair? NOPE.
    When was the last time you felt happy? THIS MORNING.
    Was it a true, pure happy or a relative happy? PURE HAPPY, I WAS SINGING IN THE CAR…
    Are you similar to the “you” you thought you would be become when as a child you imagined you future self? NO, BUT THAT’S PROBABLY A GOOD THING.
    If you were a day of the week, would you be Monday or Wednesday? ..WEDNESDAY?
    What does it feel like to get out of bed in the morning? USUALLY, GREAT. I LIKE TO GET UP NO LATER THAN 8 AND GET STUFF DONE.
    Do you realize you have on average another 11,000 to 18,250 mornings of looking in the mirror and wondering if people will find you attractive? SURE.. BUT DON’T CARE IF OTHER PEOPLE THINK I’M ATTRACTIVE, I KNOW I AM.
    Do you believe in God? NOPE.
    Are you for the chemical elimination of all things painful? WELL NO, I DON’T THINK MOOD-ALTERING DRUGS ARE A GOOD THING.

    I like that you gave it a 3.5 to 4, depending on mood.. I feel like that with SO MANY books.

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  • http://thesteadfastreader.blogspot.com/ April @ The Steadfast Reader

    Compelling review! I must check this one out.

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