I can’t remember why I thought I wanted to read Why Are You So Sad? The title and concept make it sound a wee bit depressing, but it’s not. In fact, Jason Porter takes us on a rather fun filled journey into the the malaise that seems to pervade North American culture at times.
Raymond, our protagonist, is slipping. Not only is he falling into a depression, he is convinced that all of humanity is and it will lead to our extinction. To explore this theme further he comes up with the mad capped idea to write a survey and had it out to his fellow employees at an IKEA like furniture behemoth. Part of the fun of the novel is seeing how his co-workers react to and fill in the slightly odd survey.
My favorite part of Why Are You So Sad? is that Porter leaves us with two alternate endings. I was a firm fan of the first ending. Is that because I read it first? At any rate, it gave the book a Choose Your Own Adventure feel.
Who would like this book? This book is certainly not for everyone (mom, if you’ve read this far I mean you). Porter is a very contemporary American voice that has been compared to George Saunders and David Sedaris. I would also add Canadian Douglas Coupland to this list. The book is a quick read with some provocative ideas, but is unlikely to go down as a work of great literature. I enjoyed it and consumed it in almost one sitting. In a way it can be compared to Where’d You Go, Bernadette? but for a younger, pre-family generation. Both are funny and deal with mental health in contemporary American culture.
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I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.