The Happiest People in the World: A Novel

by Brock Clarke | Literature & Fiction |
ISBN: 1616201118 Global Overview for this book
Registered by avanta7 on 7/23/2016
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1 journaler for this copy...
Journal Entry 1 by avanta7 on Saturday, July 23, 2016
At the urging of his newspaper editor, hapless Danish political cartoonist Jens Baedrup published a somewhat disrespectful drawing of Mohammed the Prophet. End result: Jens's house was torched, apparently by "Islamic fundamentalists", and he is presumed dead. He isn't actually dead, however. Instead, for his own protection, he is spirited away by an operative of the CIA to a small town in upstate New York. A stranger in a strange land, Jens changes his name to Henry, tells everyone he is Swedish, and tries to settle into his new life. Here's the unfortunate part: no one Jens/Henry meets is who they appear to be and everyone has an ulterior motive.

Brock Clarke's novel begins and ends with a bloodbath -- the same bloodbath, to be sure, but told from differing perspectives. The journey to that bloodbath is quirky, disconcerting, and filled with oddly poetic moments and disturbingly charming characters: Matty, the high school principal who also owns the town's most popular drinking establishment; Locs, the CIA operative still in love with Matty despite his return to his wife; Ellen, Matty's wife, who runs the bar and yearns for her husband to be someone other than who he is; Kurt, their teenage son, who might possibly be smarter than his parents although he hasn't figured that out yet; and a host of other idiosyncratic individuals, young and old, who make up the population of this tiny hotbed of intrigue.

Tight prose, simple straightforward sentences, great plot, great characters. I should have loved this book.

Here's the reason this is only six stars: its overweening self-conscious irony, almost like the author imbued his prose with a subtext that gloats, "Hahahah, look how clever I am!" And he is clever, but was it necessary to be so self-congratulatory about it?

Or maybe it's just that my sense of hipster sophistication is lacking.

Journal Entry 2 by avanta7 at Urban Grounds on College Ave. in Avondale Estates, Georgia USA on Saturday, July 23, 2016

Released 4 yrs ago (7/23/2016 UTC) at Urban Grounds on College Ave. in Avondale Estates, Georgia USA

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