Saturday, May 19, 2007

Pg. 99: Lydia Millet's "My Happy Life"

The new feature at the Page 99 Test: Lydia Millet's My Happy Life.

About the novel, from the publisher:
At the opening of My Happy Life, the unnamed narrator of this bittersweet fictional memoir has been abandoned in a locked room of a defunct hospital for the mentally ill. She hasn't seen the nice man who brings her food in days; she's eaten the soap and the toothpaste; she tried to eat the plaster on her walls, a dietary adventure that ended none too well.

This woman's story — covering decades and spanning continents — is utterly tragic. And yet, curiously, the narrator is happy. Despite a lifetime of neglect, physical abuse, and loss, she's incapable of perceiving slight or injury. She has infinite faith in the goodwill of others, loves even her enemies, and finds grace and communion in places most people wouldn't dare to look. By stepping outside her meager circumstances, she's able to live each moment as though it were her last-with gratitude, longing, and delight.

With the utterly original and compelling narrative voice Millet has fashioned, this is a novel that hypnotizes the reader, that startles and keeps us reading and imbues us with the rich interior life of this woman.
Among the praise for My Happy Life:

"[S]trange, slender and incandescent ... sharp and frequently funny."
Jennifer Reese, New York Times Book Review

"Occasionally a book comes along that is truly written (as writers are instructed books should be) as if it were the writer's last: Millet's sad and infinitely touching third novel (after the absurdist George Bush, Dark Prince of Love) is such an extraordinary work."
Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"Lydia Millet ... strips life down to its simplest components in her strange and lovely new novel, My Happy Life... in Millet's slim tale, deprivation enables transcendence and reverie."
—Joy Press, Village Voice

"Lydia Millet's 'fictional memoir' succeeds as a relentlessly dark novel about a heartbreakingly cheerful woman whose grim life has been marked by abuse and loss."
Boston Herald

Read more about the novel at the publisher's website, and visit the author's website for an excerpt.

My Happy Life won the 2003 PEN-USA Award.

Lydia Millet's other novels include Oh Pure and Radiant Heart, Everyone's Pretty, George Bush, Dark Prince of Love, and Omnivores.

The Page 99 Test: My Happy Life.

--Marshal Zeringue