Why Are You So Sad?
written by Jason Porter
published by Plume
Why did I pick this book: The publisher offered me a review copy. (I received a copy of this book for review purposes.)
Did I enjoy this book: Unfortunately, I did not enjoy this book.
I don’t think I got it. It didn’t make sense to me. I didn’t find it “uproarious” as the blurb suggests or “hilarious” as some of the early praise/reviews stated. I didn’t find it funny at all. I didn’t get it. There was no real story. It was just one man’s stream of consciousness in a book.
About half way through reading Why Are You So Sad?, I did start laughing. The book reminded me of an episode of Gilmore Girls, the one where Lorelai has to write a character reference for Luke to get custody of April. (What a mess that whole story arc turned out to be. But I digress.) Anyway, she is talking to Rory about writing the letter and that she did a stream that ended with “monkey monkey underpants.” That made me laugh. This book did not.
You may be wondering why I kept reading and didn’t DNF it. I don’t know. I wish I had DNF’d it. I just kept thinking it would get better. That there would be some great revelation or outcome at the end. Instead, the end was a multiple choice, with two choices. Kind of like a choose your own adventure.
No. Just, no. I would have liked to see the illustrations he described. Those sounded humorous.
Would I recommend it: I would not recommend this book.
Will I read it again: I will not.
About the book – from the publisher: Jason Porter’s uproarious, philosophical novel centers on Raymond Champs, an illustrator of IKEAesque assembly manuals for a home furnishings corporation. Raymond is unhappy. He can’t sleep. He can’t communicate with his wife. And his job is a daily exercise in lethargic apathy. No one really understands him, not even himself. But why exactly he is sad eludes him. (Let alone how to make himself happy.)
In the midst of a losing battle with insomnia, Raymond is hit with the realization that he is not alone. Everybody he knows, and maybe everybody on the planet, is suffering from severe clinical depression. He’s nearly certain something major has gone wrong. A virus perhaps. It’s in the water, or it’s in the mosquitoes, or maybe in the ranch flavored snack foods. And what if we are all too sad and dispirited to do anything about it?
Obsessed as he becomes, Raymond composes an anonymous survey to submit to his unsuspecting coworkers — “Are you who you want to be?”, “Do you believe in life after death?”, “Is today better than yesterday?” — because what he needs is evidence. He needs to know if it can be proven. It’s a big responsibility. People might not believe him. People, like his wife and his boss, might think he is losing his mind. But only because they are also losing their minds. Or are they?
Why Are You So Sad? is a sardonic, existential page-turner for fans of Sam Lipsyte, George Saunders, and Meg Wolitzer.