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?
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?
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).
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).