Happy Stories, Mostly
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Happy Stories, Mostly

Norman Erikson Pasaribu, Tiffany Tsao

Happy Stories, Mostly is a playful, charged and tender collection of twelve stories - a blend of speculative fiction and dark absurdism, often drawing on Norman Erikson Pasaribu’s Batak and Christian cultures. Pasaribu’s stories ask what it means to be almost happy - almost to find joy, almost to be accepted, but never quite grasp one’s desire. Joy and contentment shimmer on the horizon, just out of reach.

In one story, an employee is introduced to their new workplace - a department of Heaven devoted to archiving unanswered prayers. In another, a woman on holiday in Vietnam attempts to find solace following the suicide of her son. In a third, a young man befriends a university classmate obsessed with verifying the existence of a mythical hundred-foot-tall man.

Throughout the collection, queerness is a fact of life from which tragicomic events spring, amidst the forces that keep people from those whom they yearn for most, and the miraculous, melancholy ability to survive such loneliness. In the words of one of the stories' narrators, ‘I work in the dark. Like mushrooms. I don’t need light to thrive.‘

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