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Why Are You So Sad?: A Novel Paperback – January 28, 2014


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Plume (January 28, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0142180580
  • ISBN-13: 978-0142180587
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.6 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #652,506 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"Jason Porter could find a place on the shelf beside Richard Brautigan, George Saunders, and David Sedaris. This is a quick, odd, wonderful book, one that pinned me back on my heels and made me laugh." 
—Colum McCann, author of Let the Great World Spin and TransAtlantic
 
"Like a well-stocked IKEA, Why Are You So Sad has everything you need for your home and your heart. Jason Porter has written an astute, intelligent and hilarious book."
—Gary Shteyngart, author of Super Sad True Love Story

“A terrific and moving new voice. If you haven't yet made your peace with the bleaker inevitabilities of life, Jason Porter's fearless debut will get you there, one howl of laughter at a time."
–Téa Obreht, author of The Tiger’s Wife

“Why Are You So Sad: Why are you so funny, so wry, so true, so compelling? Jason Porter’s lovely book is perfect and wondrous, a masterfully crafted story of modernity. I ate it whole.” 
Jennifer Traig, author of memoirs Devil in the Details: Scenes from an Obsessive Girlhood, and Well Enough Alone: A Cultural History of My Hypochondria
 
"Why Are You So Sad? is wry, sardonic, very smart, and hilariously critical of the futility and general mediocrity of Life in America as we know it." 
Patrick McGrath, author of Asylum and Constance
 
"Existential despair has never been so funny. Why Are You So Sad is a great American comedy, perfectly tuned to this ridiculous age. Jason Porter is a Kafka with better jokes."
Larry Doyle, author of I Love You, Beth Cooper
 
Why Are You So Sad? is a precisely calibrated comedy pitched halfway between a laugh and a sob. Beautifully written, philosophically unsound, and funny.” 
Sara Levine, author of Treasure Island!!!

“Porter starts with a loaded question and takes aim at our compromises and deferred dreams, at our unquestioned normalcy—and he hits us where we live. But this is Camus crossed with Stanley Elkin, a brilliant book that’s as funny as it is wise.”
Jeffrey Rotter, author of The Unknown Knowns

"The book toggles deftly between its narrator's bummer of a worldview and his riotous, biting snark, peppered throughout with dashes of surprisingly transcendent philosophies. Porter's is a smart, compact debut that resonates on both tragic and comic levels." 
Publishers Weekly

"Have trouble waiting for the next George Saunders book? Here’s your life raft...Why Are You So Sad? reads like a work of humor, and testimony. In fact, it bravely shows how these two impulses can collide, and form a satisfying kind of solace."
—John Freeman, The Toronto Star

"Porter's humorous insight into the human condition is a highbrow/lowbrow tightrope walk between philosophical quandary and human desire. And this novel may very well get you to reflect on your own happiness, your own choices. Perhaps you may end up taking Raymond's survey, asking yourself, why am I so sad?"
—Alex Gilvarry, NPR Books

"Jason Porter’s debut novel, Why Are You So Sad?, is the latest example of a literary sub-genre in which the petty foibles and mindless tedium of office life are served up for punchlines and mordant parody."
The Washington Post

"Raymond Champ’s meandrous introspections evolve from the dark humor established by Kurt Vonnegut’s confessional asides, Chuck Palahniuk’s anti-establishment riots, and the observational humor of David Sedaris. Jason Porter and his debut novel join a community of stories balancing unconventional style with conventional human loneliness."
The Brooklyn Rail

About the Author

Jason Porter was born and raised in southeastern Michigan. A known gemini, he is, or has been, an English teacher, customer support representative, landlord, traveling musician, and the overnight editor for Yahoo! News and the New York Times. Currently he writes fiction. Why Are You So Sad? is his first novel.

Customer Reviews

What I really loved about the book is that Porter knows what depression is all about.
bdallmann
There are a few hints indicating mental illness but then nothing comes of it, leaving me wondering if mid-life crisis is the culprit or something else entirely.
chanda ekker
The funny, dark, and thought provoking qualities of WAYSS are direct effects of the superb writing style of Mr. Porter.
Kaitlin

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By sscheshire on January 28, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
One of the blurbs for Porter's debut calls it a cross between Camus and Stanley Elkin. I can't do much better, so I won't try. Not to mention, Porter's hero, Raymond Champs, is just the sort of guy I love to drink with - he simply can't help but be unstoppably depressive, even as almost everything he says makes me laugh.

The story: Champs wakes up one morning wondering why he, and hence, of course, the world, is so depressed. So he decides to make a survey to get to the bottom of things - one of the questions: "Why Are You So Sad?" He distributes the survey at work, pretending it's on behalf of a boss concerned for the well-being of his employees. His wife does not approve.

It must be said that realism is not the point here (although I would argue this sort of thing is just the sort of thing "corporate hippy" culture now loves to earnestly engage in). The point is Champs' (and Porter's) surreal perspective, his morbid preoccupations, his dead-on comic timing: "Waking up was like reversing a burial; I was a Cartesian brain alive in a coffin, aware of my own thoughts and the requirements of the living, but with no will to rise and proceed with my life. If it weren't for my bladder, I might never have gotten up. I had to pee, therefore I was." That is fantastic writing. The novel is smart, patient, philosophical, sad, poetic, meandering, and funny as hell. If you're a fan of The Office and Kierkegaard (may we all be...), then you should buy it now and read it twice.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By David Gerrard on January 28, 2014
Format: Paperback
Jason Porter's novel takes an ingenious premise--a depressed man who creates a survey to discover whether the whole world is depressed--and executes it with irony, compassion, and most of all, humor. If you're a fan of George Saunders or Sam Lipsyte, you should check this out.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By greg kim on January 29, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
In Jason Porter’s debut novel, Why Are You So Sad? the beauty lies in the corners: coexisting with aquatic tigers, a nightstand that doubles as a doghouse, a belly rubbing panda, the War of 1812 bridge, transmissions with a stuffed giraffe and many more. These come in daydreams, induced by a world with too many cubicles and too many depressed people occupying them.

The main character, Ray Champs, part Harvey Pekar and Peter Gibbons, who describes getting out of bed in the morning as a reverse burial, knows the truth: everybody is depressed. He distributes an unauthorized questionnaire at work that asks Why Are You So Sad? Champs thinks this field study will expose what he already knows.

Poignant, funny, smart, philosophical, entertaining, weird (in a good way), topical and ultimately redeeming, this book dropped me off in a place I wasn’t expecting to visit: it made me want to write a love letter to my wife. Pretty cool.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Bill Cheng on January 28, 2014
Format: Paperback
This book is written with a sharp wit and a generous spirit. Ray Champs's journey (and it is a journey) is full of insight that is both hilarious and moving. From the humdrum corporate culture to Champs' dissonant marriage, Porter manages to both skewer these worlds while drawing blood at the same time. Comedy is a tightrope that Porter navigates with a kind of easy grace. Why Are You So Sad? asks us to do more than grin, it compels us to feel .
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Jean Brandt on January 30, 2014
Format: Paperback
This short little novel touches on some very large issues. Mr. Porter has something to say about the human condition today and what he says isn't very up beat. He does a great job of engaging the reader . It was easy to slip into the story, to engage in the character's thoughts and feelings. An author who is able to accomplish this deserves an audience.
Why Are You So Sad was a quick read but not, I think so quickly forgotten. The premise of Jason Porter's novel is interesting and current. For this reason Why Are You So Sad will make for a great book group read. The novel contains so many timely topics for discussion.

Are you happy ?
What does it feel like to get out of bed in the morning ?
Would you prefer to be someone else ?
Are you for the chemical elimination of all things painful?

Just a few of the questions put forth by, Ray, the young protagonist of this book.
Not sure how many readers have pondered the questions presented in this book but I have and Mr. Porter's presentation of the discontent in today's society validates what many people may feel but can not express.
This is not a happy book, a bit on the "sad" side but for readers who want to read something that will be though provoking, Why Are You So Sad, fits the bill.
Originally I gave this book three and a half stars. The book left me unsettled, which may have influenced my decision to do this. After some reflection I went back and changed it to four stars. Mr. Porter wrote a book that makes an impact. I may be uncomfortable with that impact but his talent should be recognized for what it is, a real ability to engage the reader.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By snpfpl on February 26, 2014
Format: Paperback
Short review (which doesn't do the book credit): Office Space meets The Apartment.
I've always wondered why the movie,The Apartment, was marketed as a comedy. To me it was an interesting, adult tale with a happier ending then something like "Shampoo". It may be that in it's marketing wisdom, Hollywood felt nobody would go to see that type of movie if it was simply promoted as a mature story with great acting.

Why Are You So Sad seems to get the same treatment. It is not the book described by the blurbs on it's covers. It has moments of hilarity however selling it as a gut laughter fest really short changes it's many interesting parts. Found myself skipping ahead to see where it would go next. Will read again.
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More About the Author

Jason Porter was born in Jackson, Michigan, in 1972, and grew up in nearby Ann Arbor. After a brief career as an online news editor (Yahoo! News and The New York Times) and a less brief non-career as a rock musician, Jason completed an MFA in Fiction at Hunter College. Now he writes fiction, mostly in odd shapes and sizes. His first novel, Why Are You So Sad?, was shortlisted for the Paris Literary Prize, and was published by Plume in early 2014. He lives in Brooklyn, with his girlfriend and their two dogs.

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