The Happiest People in the World

61YZc4UHX-L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_On September 30th, we met at Diesel Cafe to discuss The Happiest People in the World, by Brock Clarke. The book follows a Danish cartoonist who, after receiving death threats, moves to upstate New York to become a high school guidance counselor. It’s a odd book full of dysfunctional characters, none of whom you think have a chance at a happy ending.

The book is structured strangely, starting with a chapter from the point of view of a moose head on a bar wall, and ending with the aftermath of this incident. Stream-of-consciousness passages consisting of long chunks of text are interspersed with short action sequences, often without much description. The result is that the book reads much like an exercise, a challenge the author set himself. While there’s nothing wrong with this (indeed, many effective novels have been written as personal challenges) it means the novel lends itself to a deconstruction of craft.

The reviews on this book were mixed. While a few readers enjoyed it, others found they wouldn’t have finished (or didn’t finish). If the premise appeals to you, pick it up. If not, this may not be the title for you.

I’m already enjoying our next book, An Exaggerated Murder by Josh Cook. It plays around with the devices and cliches of murder mysteries in a funny and intelligent way. I’d love to hear what you think at our next book club: October 28th at 7pm at Diesel Cafe in Davis Square.

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