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How Happy to Be

Author: Onstad, Katrina Set In . . .
 North America, Canada, Ontario, Toronto
Genre: Fiction
Time Frame: 2000s
Published: 2006
Description: Sharp, urban, witty, wise — this sparkling debut is the thinking woman’s answer to chick lit Maxime is an entertainment writer at a flailing neo-con newspaper. She’s been dining out too long, literally and figuratively, on a culture of celebrity worship and empty punditry. She seeks refuge from her better judgment in endless parties, ritual substance abuse, and half-hearted attempts to get herself fired, but in a libertarian newsroom where outrageous spin is the easiest way to sell papers, her bad-girl behaviour just wins her more accolades.

Along this path of self-destruction, Max’s past, comic and poignant, keeps intruding: memories of her mother’s brutal death and her hippie father’s crippling breakdown; the reappearance of an aging vegan idealist who briefly played her stepmom on the West Coast commune where she came of age; tender realizations about the bad artist she was supposed to marry and a long-lost boyfriend who seems exotically sane. When a host of prior indiscretions finally catches up with her, Maxime realizes that any chance at happiness depends on uncovering, at last, her one true story.

Set during the madness of the Toronto International Film Festival and weaving back and forth between Max’s commune past and her newsroom present, How Happy to Be portrays with razor-sharp insight and bittersweet wit a modern woman’s descent into — and eventual escape from — the deafening pop culture noise of the early twenty-first century. Intelligent, savvy, this novel marks the arrival of a remarkable new fiction talent.
  
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