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Why Are You So Sad?: A Novel Paperback – January 28, 2014
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"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."
"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
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Top customer reviews
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.
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.
Some reviewers have likened Why Are You So Sad? to works by other authors, but to me it resembles a unique piece of cuisine, which excites the palate in ways never experienced.
Porter drops you into the depths of depression of a mundane office day with all too familiar sleazy and annoying colleagues, and then pings you back up with a fragment of hilarity that leaves you shaking with laughter and wishing there was someone else around to share the moment of elation with.
Never have I had to restrain myself as much when consuming literature. Instead of racing for the finish line, I wanted to keep going forever. Most of my books, once read, languish in dust on the shelf for the rest of their existence like downtrodden office workers. Not this one!
As the author of Laugh in the Face of PMS Diary, I relished the style in which Porter used depression and dark comedy to complement each other to perfection. [...]
Most recent customer reviews
What I enjoyed was the two options with two unique ways to interpret the end of the book.Read more
Ray, your average corporate slave at an Ikea-esque furniture company, is depressed.Read more