Item description for You Must Be This Happy to Enter (Punk Planet Books) by Elizabeth Crane...
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.
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.
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Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 0.75" Width: 5.5" Height: 7.5" Weight: 0.4 lbs.
Release Date Feb 1, 2008
Publisher Akashic Books
ISBN 1933354437 ISBN13 9781933354439
Availability 0 units.
More About Elizabeth Crane
Elizabeth Crane is the author of the story collections When the Messenger Is Hot, All This Heavenly Glory, and You Must Be This Happy to Enter. Her work has been featured in McSweeney's The Future Dictionary of America, The Best Underground Fiction, and elsewhere. This is her first novel.
Elizabeth Crane currently resides in Chicago, in the state of Illinois. Elizabeth Crane was born in 1961.
Reviews - What do customers think about You Must Be This Happy to Enter (Punk Planet Books)?
I'm sorry, I want a divorce. Jun 10, 2008
Given how much I liked Crane's earlier books I hope you'll understand it upsets me to say this.
After reading her first collection, I wanted to kiss her sentences. Her second took me a step further: I wanted to marry her sentences and have children with them.
It felt like a progression for Crane, too, building to a novel. I'm not one who thinks a writer has to write novels or she is worthless, but that did seem to me to be the direction in which Crane was going.
Most of the best stories here, like "Clearview" and "What Happens When the Mipods Leave Their Milieu," deserve more space than they get. The best characters, like the girl whose forehead becomes a magic 8-ball, certainly do. "Promise" ends the collection on a moving note, but it feels like a first chapter rather than a self-contained story.
Comparing this to Crane's last book is like comparing a night taking in a show at the theater to one channel-zapping around the cable box. Both are very passable ways to spend an evening, but one has more substance.
Even kissable sentences are few and far-between--I only remember one, and it's more of a smutty joke than a beautifully-bagged phrase. Which isn't a bad thing (smutty jokes), but when it's the most memorable line in an Elizabeth Crane book...the thrill is gone, baby.
The word "glad" appears on my forehead May 27, 2008
Crane's early collection impressed me, and I am so often unimpressed with short-story collections nowadays. So I picked up "Happy" and ended up happy I did. These well-written, erudite and slightly off-key stories add up to a collection that probes the ideas of fate, faith and longing in ways that permit happy (or at least open-ended) endings. "Promise" made me a bit weepy, because all contemporary parents (at least parents of a certain age) feel like that -- we're not going to be our parents, but we are, and yet we're not. The "forehead" story was poignant as well. Her sentences, especially the long ones punctuated buy exclamation points and filled with subordinate clauses, many of which are funny asides, and often veer into unexpected areas, like cheating or noisy neighborhoods, generally are great!
Refreshing Apr 8, 2008
I haven't read either of Crane's earlier story collections (When the Messenger is Hot and All This Heavenly Glory), but definitely get the sense from the sixteen stories here that she's got her own style, and if you liked either of those collections, you'll like this one too. Not quite sure how to describe or define that style, but her work has appeared in Nerve, The Believer, a McSweeny's anthology, and another anthology called "The Best in Underground Fiction" (among other places), which might help to give a sense of her sensibility. It's somewhat sharp, somewhat sweet, somewhat quirky (ugh, I hate that word), somewhat satirical, somewhat pop culture referencing, and permeates every story. In that sense, it's definitely a collection best read a story at a time, spaced out over a few weeks, otherwise the stories are liable to run together.
Some are basically, one-trick ponies, built on a single premise that can barely sustain the few pages allotted to it. For example, the first story, "My Life is Awesome! And Great!" is a rambling monologue by a woman desperately trying to convince herself of the titular statement, and every sentence of her monologue ends with an upbeat exclamation point. Like this! "Notes For A Story About People With Weird Phobias" is just that -- ten pages outlining a prospective talk show about people scared of strange stuff. In "What Happens When the Mipods Leave Their Milieu," the author of an acclaimed graphic novel about religion is hired by a university and doesn't know how to confront the assumption of irony placed upon his work.
Others are more surreal and correspondingly interesting. One of my favorites is "Clearview," about a normal small town in which everything suddenly appears transparent, clothes, buildings, everything. How that plays out, how people react, and what happens to those who can still see solid objects is really compelling and satirical. Another excellent example is "Donovan's Closet," in which a woman becomes addicted to her new boyfriend's closet. I also quite liked "Blue Girl," about a girl whose forehead becomes a fortune-telling device and the collection's titular story, about a photographer who time-travels to an era when being happy is unlawful, but still manages to find love.
On the whole, I could have lived without some of the more gimmicky stories, but there's an underlying happiness and joy to the stories that is an exceedingly refreshing antidote to the overwritten (oops, I mean carefully crafted) short fiction one tends to find in the mainstream outlets and major publishers. Definitely not everyone's cup of tea, but worth a taste just to see if you like it. Unfortunately, none of the stories are available at the author's web site, but if you poke around a little online you can probably find one or two to sample.
You'll be even happier once you get inside Mar 5, 2008
This is a collection of original, hilarious stories. My favorite is "Betty the Zombie" about a woman who gets on a theraputic reality show to deal with her "human flesh eating issues."