Happy Like This

National Book Foundation’s ‘5 Under 35’ honoree, 2019



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2019
218 pages, 5 ½ × 8 ¼ inches
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$17.00
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9781609386832
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9781609386849

“Wurzbacher deploys her encyclopedic command of various ideas, regions, professions and lexicons with the authority of seasoned masters like Adam Johnson. This is a writer at the top of her game; but hopefully she’s only just getting started.”—New York Times

“I love these dark, lyrical, sinewy stories about women’s relationships with their bodies and with each other. It’s the sort of theme that could feel irritably well-trod, but that’s not the case here at all; these stories surprised me at every turn. And the writing is so gorgeous!”—Carmen Maria Machado, judge, 2019 John Simmons Short Fiction Award 

“Equal parts graceful and astonishing, the stories in Ashley Wurzbacher’s debut collection do the brave work of building upon established traditions to create worlds and languages all their own. The result is a sweeping, insightful, and compassionate portrait not only of women’s lives, losses, and loves, but of their anger, its power, and the fierce sisterhood forged between those who express it.”—Allie Rowbottom, author, JELL-O Girls

“Rumor has it that Alice Munro in responding to the question ‘Do you consider yourself a feminist?’, replied thusly: ‘If you mean do I take the lives of women seriously, yes.’ Ashley Wurzbacher’s wonderful collection of stories made me think of that writer, and that answer, repeatedly. I love this book.”—Antonya Nelson, author, Funny Once 

“I fell in love with these stories from page one. Happy Like This is a funny, touching catalog of women’s generosity toward each other and themselves, of the secrets we need to keep, and the paths we must take in order to live more fully. A powerhouse of a collection.”—Danielle Lazarin, author, Back Talk

“What a gorgeous, varied, brilliant, and accomplished collection of stories. On every page, moments of truth and beauty so perfectly, easily, and indelibly rendered in lines to make you catch your breath and wish to read them over and over. A must read!”—Gregory Spatz, author, Inukshuk

The characters in Happy Like This are smart girls and professional women—social scientists, linguists, speech therapists, plant physiologists, dancers—who search for happiness in roles and relationships that are often unscripted or unconventional. In the midst of their ambivalence about marriage, monogamy, and motherhood and their struggles to accept and love their bodies, they look to other women for solidarity, stability, and validation. Sometimes they find it; sometimes they don’t. Spanning a wide range of distinct perspectives, voices, styles, and settings, the ten shimmering stories in Happy Like This offer deeply felt, often humorous meditations on the complexity of choice and the ambiguity of happiness.

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