Something Like Happy

John Burnside

Something Like Happy

A collection of masterpieces in short fiction in praise of hope, from prize-winning author John Burnside. 4.1 out of 5 based on 14 reviews
Something Like Happy

Omniscore:

Classification Fiction
Genre Short Stories
Format Hardcover
Pages 256
RRP
Date of Publication January 2013
ISBN 978-0224097031
Publisher Jonathan Cape
 

A collection of masterpieces in short fiction in praise of hope, from prize-winning author John Burnside.

Read Something Like Happy on the New Yorker website.

Reviews

The Times

Paul Dunn

The Deer Larder is a perfect ghost story for the internet age. The narrator receives a series of misdirected e-mails telling of spooky happenings on the island of Jura. Thinking that it is a cyber hoax, he fails to intervene. Then a press clipping reveals the truth ... In that story, Burnside writes of those surreal fragments found on the internet: “Sad little narratives of trouble and desire, of achievement and loss.” That description would serve these stories well: nothing cries out to be longer or outstays its welcome. Each is a perfectly pitched, perfectly weighted gem.

05/01/2012

Read Full Review


Scotland on Sunday

Hannah McGill

These are not mere flights of fluency; we are very evidently in the hands of a storyteller. Burnside has an eye for the dark ironies, the devastating reversals and the bleak secrets at play in unsung lives, and an ear for the nuances of communication. He’s also disarmingly good on joy (notoriously harder to tackle convincingly than angst), whether the headrush of sexual infatuation, or the intense sensual impact of a perfectly prepared ice cream sundae.

30/12/2012

Read Full Review


The Independent

Brian Morton

These are Scottish versions of the stories of Raymond Carver, another poet-storyteller, but John Burnside makes more happen and with a kind of bleary intoxicated joy Carver was rarely capable of.

05/01/2012

Read Full Review


The Independent on Sunday

Layla Sanai

The cruel former beauty in "Roccolo", who delights in luring young boys to witness her acts of sadism, shows traces of the paedophilia that has threaded through the author's previous work. Her chilling equanimity and self-delusion while recounting her acts of torture conjures memories of one of Burnside's most vile protagonists, the Mengele-like character in his first novel, The Dumb House. Her wanton evil makes "Roccolo" the most disturbing story in the collection, and one that is hard to keep reading.

06/01/2012

Read Full Review


The Scotsman

Tom Adair

In two of the stories – “The Deer Larder” and “Roccolo” – the endings feel flawed, so keen to surprise that they seem contrived, their dramatic weight in disproportion to what has led to each culmination. However, two tales which strike and impale are the five-page “Lost Someone”, and “Godwit”, with cross-over characters mooching beady-eyed in the foreground like birds of prey, an awful incipient sense of violence being unshakeable throughout.

29/12/2001

Read Full Review


The Daily Express

Caroline Jowett

He shines his spotlight into his characters’ lives illuminating their inner thoughts and secret selves to create a resonance with the reader.

04/01/2012

Read Full Review


The New Statesman

Margaret Drabble

There is much familiar Burnside landscape here – the harsh beauty of dune-grass and headland, the casual and deadly knifing in the pub, the domestic violence (most vividly evoked in a terrifying story called “Slut’s Hair”), the truck driver’s lonely road, the treacherous friend, the sad affair. “Fallings from us, vanishings”: and yet, as in Words - worth, there are intimations of immortality, memories and moments, which make these stories more magical than lowering.

17/01/2013

Read Full Review


The Daily Mail

Christina Appleyard

All of them are written with the same spellbindng language that make them mini thrillers with unguessable endings.

17/04/2013

Read Full Review


Times Literary Supplement

Jerome Boyd Maunsell

Burnside’s is not quite an art of the everyday, although it captures, with extraordinary intensity, the ordinary beauty in everyday life. Some of these stories tip towards fear or horror, while the best ones fuse the author’s impulses towards the mystical and macabre with a steady sense of reality.

08/02/2013

Read Full Review


The Sunday Times

Francesca Angelini

The flickering borders between the imagined and the real, and the metaphysical issues of existence, are themes familiar from Burnside’s past novels and poems. In this collection, he proves himself equally masterly when it comes to writing short stories, capturing entire lives and landscapes in just a few thousand words of careful, nuanced prose.

06/01/2012

Read Full Review


The Guardian

Stuart Kelly

Something Like Happy, his first collection of short stories since Burning Elvis, puts the reader into familiarly unfamiliar territory, but in an unsettling way. For those unacquainted with his sublimely terrifying oeuvre, this is the place to start.

19/01/2013

Read Full Review


The Daily Telegraph

Robert Hanks

The 13 stories in Something Like Happy offer all the customary satisfactions of Burnside’s writing – anomie, menace, flashes of violence and cruelty, hallucinations and snow – but multiplied, so that it sometimes feels as though what you are reading is not a story, an exercise of the imagination, so much as another iteration of a process ... Taken together, these stories suggest that Burnside has reached some kind of impasse: he needs to find new tones and new images. But even his most routine stories have beauty and intelligence: he is never less than something like brilliant.

29/01/2013

Read Full Review


The Financial Times

Natalie Whittle

Each of these sly expositions of human suffering turns to face something frightening: the disavowal of hope in a dead-end town; subtle but devastating rejection by a lover; and shocking acts of violence ... the ambiguity is brilliant.

01/02/2013

Read Full Review


The Literary Review

Sam Kitchener

Their stories read as though they have benefited from some successful therapy. It ’s not the sudden catch of a Joycean epiphany, but a steadier, more persistent line in redemptive insight. Maybe a bit too much like Buddhist mindfulness, for my taste. This mostly results in elegant noticing – stars that look ‘fine, local, and warm and brave in the gathering darkness’ – but it can be overdone. Observations are put back into the sieve and worked towards unprompted refinement.

01/03/2013

Read Full Review


©2013 The Omnivore