- Paperback: 250 pages
- Published: 2/1/08
- IBSN: 9781933354439
- e-IBSN: 9781617750564
- Genre: Fiction
Denial, God, dystopia, academic, and reality TV collide in acclaimed author Crane’s third story collection from Punk Planet Books, the imprint that launched indie smash hit Hairstyles of the Damned by Joe Meno.
“Crane has a distinctive and eccentric voice that is consistent and riveting.”
—New York Times Book Review
“Crane is funny, even when her subject is pain . . . There’s an energy and immediacy to [her] stories that make them feel as if they could have been delivered in one beautiful, raw rant over a bottle of wine. A night reading them is well spent.”
You Must Be This Happy to Enter is part of our Punk Planet Books imprint, which originated from Punk Planet magazine.
Whether breathlessly enthusiastic, serenely calm, or really concentrating on their personal zombie issues, Crane’s happy cast explore the complexities behind personal satisfaction. You Must Be This Happy to Enter exists in a world very much like our own but infused with more joy and magic. It’s a place where the happy are jailed, the sincere cause confusion, and pop culture so seamlessly melds with real life that characters can walk right out of the television and come live with you.
Crane’s third collection aims to convey something fresh in literature: utter sincerity. With a trademark mix of hyperreality, humor, and heartfelt emotion, You Must Be This Happy to Enter asks readers to connect with the loopy ways of her characters. Because even though they’re occasionally severed from reality, they still seem to know something you don’t about keeping upbeat in a strange and crumbling environment.
The opening story features a woman who can speak only in exclamations. Betty may be a zombie on a reality TV show, but she’s a woman willing to work on herself. Sally is just plain old freaking happy. (You shouldn’t even read that story.) Another woman gives birth to a baby who turns into Ethan Hawke, but by golly, she’s not going to let that stop her from being a good parent. What happens when a town turns transparent overnight? Do people run away just because they’re basically naked? (No.) What would you do if your perfect man was jailed for being happy? What would you do if you had words on your forehead? (You’d use it to your advantage, that’s what!) How does a couple manage their differences over bananas? (They freak out, and then they laugh. Do you have a better idea?)
ELIZABETH CRANE is the author of the story collections You Must Be This Happy to Enter, When the Messenger Is Hot, and All This Heavenly Glory. Her work has been featured in numerous publications including the 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.