Something Like Happy

Something Like Happy In these remarkable stories John Burnside takes us into the lives of men and women trapped in marriage ensnared by drink diminished by disappointment all kinds of women all kinds of men lonely un

  • Title: Something Like Happy
  • Author: John Burnside
  • ISBN: 9780224097031
  • Page: 370
  • Format: Hardcover
  • In these remarkable stories, John Burnside takes us into the lives of men and women trapped in marriage, ensnared by drink, diminished by disappointment all kinds of women, all kinds of men lonely, unfaithful, dying driving empty roads at night These are people for whom the idea of home has become increasingly intangible, hard to believe and happiness, or grace,In these remarkable stories, John Burnside takes us into the lives of men and women trapped in marriage, ensnared by drink, diminished by disappointment all kinds of women, all kinds of men lonely, unfaithful, dying driving empty roads at night These are people for whom the idea of home has become increasingly intangible, hard to believe and happiness, or grace, or freedom, all now seem to belong in some kind of dream, or a fable they might have read in a children s picture book As he says in one story, All a man has is his work and his sense of himself, all the secret life he holds inside that nobody else can know But in each of these normal, damaged lives, we are shown something extraordinary a dogged belief in some kind of hope or beauty that flies in the face of all reason and is, as a result, both transfiguring and heart rending John Burnside is unique in contemporary British letters he is one of our best living poets, but he is also a thrillingly talented writer of fiction These exquisitely written pieces, each weighted so perfectly, opens up the whole wound of a life in one moment and each of these twelve short stories carries the freight and density of a great novel.

    One thought on “Something Like Happy”

    1. I loved many of the stories here: Slut's Hair (which appeared in the same anthology as me), Peach Melba, Godwit, A Winter's Tale, and especially The Cold Outside, which chronicles the mundane life of a lorry driver who is terminally ill. He has a strange encounter with a hitchhiker, but although it makes him think and sit back a little, it is not life-changing or dramatic, and he goes back to his home and his flat relationship with his wife, just a little bit more aware of things around him. Thi [...]

    2. An almost flawless collection of stories from John Burnside. His previous story collection, Burning Elvis, is arguably the best of his early fiction - the novels don't really start doing anything for me until Living Nowhere - and this new book is a worthy successor to Elvis. Several of the stories are not too far removed from some of the novels, with their concerns for dead-end lives marked by violence in dead-end towns - the title story, Godwit, and A Winter's Tale, for example - while others a [...]

    3. I'm tossing up whether to give this 3 or 4 stars. There is no doubt that Burnside is an excellent writer and I very much enjoyed his deft use of language in these short stories. But, the subject matter became too much for me by the end of the book. All the lonely people, where do they all come from. Eleanor Rigby could well have featured in this work. So many sad stories of lonely or outcast individuals seeking some strain of happiness. The story that stood out for me was Sluts Hair where Burnsi [...]

    4. A brilliant collection of short stories from a poet and therefore retains a fair amount of poetry in its telling. Reading Burnside is like looking under the hood of human intention. Some of them deal with the other world - for lack of a better term - whatever lies at the edge of consciousness. That which we are afraid to face and those who face them are changed forever. Those who watch from the sidelines - including us - have only the faintest idea of living a life touched by it. It's scary and [...]

    5. A respectable batch of short stories, generally carrying a sense of claustrophobia, dropping the reader as close to self-contained universes as possible. It's an uncomfortable experience. My criticism of a collection like this is that the voices narrating the stories are essentially the same. With such a range of experiences and characters, I wonder why the same voice would be showing us these intimate places and hidden brain-slices. This is a larger problem in "literary fiction," but I'm not su [...]

    6. The characters in this collection of short stories are ordinary people living unremarkable lives, although the cliche "quiet desperation" did sometimes flit into my mind. Yet in each of these lives there is a secret which soothes and nourishes the soul or inner being which makes each character unique and remarkable and delivers "somethinghappy".John Burnside's perceptive writing evokes the essence of what it is to be human, to be alone, to be amongst others and to settle for the moments that all [...]

    7. I started reading John Burnside a few years ago with ' The Devil's Footprints' and think he has been steadily getting better and better since, culminating in the stunning 'A Summer of Drowning', but this was the first time I had tried his short fiction. Few authors excel at both the long and short form, but on the evidence of this brilliant collection he is one to add to the list of those that do. The book is pretty much faultless - even the shortest pieces, originally commissioned for a specifi [...]

    8. Brilliant writing and really absorbing stories – mainly about lonely people (lonely both inside and outside of relationships) whose lives have gone off-track – it’s a cruel world. Very poignant, moving – at the same time I didn’t find much lightness in this set and it produced a bit of a downer in my mood. So I can give it loads of praise but not a recommendation. I really liked his novel ‘Glister’ and will definitely get some other works by John Burnside.

    9. Having read all of his recent work, I don't think this is among his best. Unlike the blurb I don't think these can be compared to Raymond Carver - there is something more forced in these tales, if anything a bit too much going on. On the other hand I think he is striving for more poetic imagery than Carver does, and in some of the stories it comes off, and some of the images will linger.

    10. It was nice to read a collection of short stories for a change. In many of these stories the protagonists are looking for happiness or dealing with loneliness, or its more positive form of solitude. Some of the stories were a bit on the bleak side (nasty people, washed out snowy scenes) so the short format worked just fine for them. Nice to find a new-to-me author.

    11. Doesn't feel anorexic with its prose like a lot of modern short story collections - a lot of thought seems to have gone into writing these stories and they feel real/hefty and with a purpose.Can be tiring reading the whole collection in a single seating (I took breaks several times over 3 days) but a worthy collection and deserves to be read and re-read.

    12. These short stories by poet John Burnside aren't dramatic or dynamic, but describe unsettling, lonely, quieter moments in the lives of the characters. A quotation from the last story I think captures the atmosphere of the collection - "the disappointment of being the people we turned out to be".

    13. A varied collection of short stories although all were quite dark and many featured the themes of either unrequited love or unloving or unsatisfactory relationships. There are a few real gems in the collection, notably for me 'Roccolo', 'The Deer Larder' and 'The Bell-Ringer'. 8/10.

    14. Beautifully written and burnished with poetry but painfully cold to read as each story gently weeps with the loneliness and disappointment of being.

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