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My Happy Life Paperback – April 4, 2007
Intrusion: A Novel
A loving couple, grieving the loss of their son, finds their marriage in free fall when a beautiful, long-lost acquaintance inserts herself into their lives. Learn More
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In childhood she catapults from one charitable home to another, abused by fellow residents and schoolmates, and eventually winds up sleeping on park benches. As a young woman she falls prey to a sadistic wealthy patron who kidnaps her. With graceful and often poetic simplicity, Millet thrusts us into the childlike mind of a person who has a limited ability to make herself understood in an unforgiving world. This woman's story--covering decades and spanning continents--is utterly tragic, yet her capacity for joy shines throughout. It's quite an about-face from Millet's last novel, the silly and satirical George Bush, Dark Prince of Love. Despite its many abstractions (Where are we? How much time has passed?), the book flows easily and doesn't step outside this determined, faithful woman's story for a second. Her character may not have a name, but readers will ultimately trust her--in happiness and in sorrow. --Emily Russin --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
It is the Narrator (never identified) who makes the comment above in Lydia Millet's, "My Happy Life," a woman who has had almost no real happiness in her life and who always recovers from whatever blows and misfortunes life deals her without any ill feelings or rancor. She is resilient to a fault..always looking on the bright side, always making excuses for those who mistreat her.
We all know this woman. She's the one who cleans our hotel rooms or offices. She's the one with the bad haircut and out-of-style coat whose smile we do not return on the street. She's the one we hope never to become.
But Millet makes her a heroine with a profound sense of insight and razor sharp introspection...a kind of life experience idiot savant. And in the end....we, at the very least, admire her and maybe even secretly want to be her.
The Narrator takes us to her bosom early on when she says: "so now I seem alone...But I am not alone...I have You." And that she does through 150 pages of heart-wrenching bad luck and unspeakable misfortune. But nonetheless, the tone of the novel is sweet with the fragrance of a life fondly remembered.
Our Narrator is "Everywoman" and by extension Everyman: exploited, abandoned, discarded, imprisoned, rejected, made invisible by age. Millet seems to be saying: Look at this woman, Look at this Life, Look how she recovers and perserveres... Don't complain to me about your petty upsets and daily trials and tribulations! Here is how it is in the extreme...Read more ›
MY HAPPY LIFE is a brilliant example of literary minimalism - a narration with an economy of words because an economy of words is all the child-like narrator possesses.
The narrator's perception is limited because of mental deficiency but her sensitivity is nothing less than enlightened. Her beautiful innocence impairs her judgment and makes her charitable to the few people that come and go in her life, yet she tells her story as a diary of herself, destabilizing all the boundaries with which society has confined her.
The narrator is simply incapable of negativity and tends to be overly trusting and kind. She may be mentally challenged and her version of her life at odds with reality, yet her simple narration is rich with transcendent subtext - an implied deeper meaning that will shock, disturb and rattle the reader.
My Happy Life is a narration about survival in a cold, cruel and heartless world. Yet it is told with warmth, humanity and compassion. This little novel is a tonic gift for the soul and Lydia Millet is the rare, penetrating mind whose extraordinary vision and poetic expression have bequeathed that gift.
This is a short 150 page book that speaks volumes. I have never read a book quite like this one and cherished each and every word.
We meet our narrator, a girl of no name, who finds the good in everyone and everything. Her life? Her life is horrible, but you would never know it. This special person finds beauty, redemption, and kindness constantly. You think you have problems? This girl started her life in a shoe box left on a street to be found on a rainy and cold morning. She is moved from orphanage to foster home, from one set of dire circumstances to another, all the time being abused emotionally, physically, and mentally. She is beaten, she is raped, she is degraded, yet, yet, she is happy, content, apologetic to others for THEIR unkindness and faults.
Perhaps this special lady is so forgiving and happy due to mental problems, but does she have mental problems? Is she stuck in a world where she is constantly the victim and gets labeled as a mentally ill person? Travel through her 'happy' life as she stumbles through her days/weeks/years, living in different homes, with different people and finally ending up forgotten, abandoned, and alone in a locked room in a mental facility. And yet, still, she is not bitter or upset, but deals with what life has dealt her.
Lydia Millet writes like nobody I have ever read. Her words flow, shimmer, shine, bring a person to tears. Her prose is beautiful and full of wonder. For example -- "The door is locked from the outside; they went away and forgot me. It is not difficult: many times I have almost forgotten myself." Or -- "It is hard to say what Brother ever made of me, but I made a galaxy out of him. And all the lonely stars spiraled toward the center, glowing.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Having previously read Miller's trilogy and enjoyed it, I wanted to read this which probably had slightly better reviews. I was not disappointed. Read morePublished 14 months ago by James M. Kangas
This was a heartbreaking and beautiful little book. I had a tough time dealing with all the terrible things that continued to happen to such an innocent compassionate narrator. Read morePublished 18 months ago by AWL
Wow, did I read the same book? This review is totally out of character for me but I have to say this is the stupidest book I have ever read. Read morePublished 20 months ago by Beth
I read this book in the span of a day more than a decade ago and it seriously changed my perspective on life. I still treasure and talk about this book to this day.Published on June 28, 2014 by Sibyl Karenina
A friend of mine suggested it for Millet's voice, and she really came through. On every single page there were sentences that you like mallets in your guts.Published on May 2, 2013 by Igor
You have to read it to understand. Amazing. I could not put it down once I started to read it.Published on March 29, 2013 by Amazon Customer
This book will tug at your heart, with it's unusual premise and lead character. I'm not sure it's the kind of book that you could love but it does hold your attention and make you... Read morePublished on February 9, 2008 by Weekly Reader
I found this book an astonishment and the feeling has stayed with me. the author tackles a story of mental illness, abandonment and abuse through a veil of happiness. Read morePublished on December 2, 2007 by bravo
'My Happy Life' is about a life that has been anything but happy, but our nameless protagonist doesn't see it that way. Read morePublished on January 7, 2006 by Schtinky