Happiness(TM) by Will Ferguson
(Penguin Group Canada, Toronto: 2002)
READ: April 2009
One of my all-time favourite books. I have read it at least three times since first picking it up in 2004 (because I found the giant daisy on the cover was, ironically, pleasing). I hadn't heard of Will Ferguson before, though he has since become one of my favourite authors. I have since bought the book again at least three times, since I kept giving away my own copy to others.
It is a story about self-help books. One day, junior editor Edwin, desperate to show the boss that he is working on something, pulls - not out of his slush pile but literally out of the garbage - a giant, rambling manuscript someone had sent in, claiming it to be The Only Self-Help Book You'll Ever Need. The book and its claims are clearly ludicrous, but the boss gets Edwin to push through and get it published. The book is an instant success...except instead of reading it and moving along to the next trendy thing, people start taking its advice to heart. They quit their jobs, move to communes, start farming sustainably. They quit smoking and drinking, too. But even worse, they stop buying self-help books. Soon, the world's biggest problem is that everyone, everyone is just too darn happy. Except for Edwin.
The first time I read this book, I remember many laugh-out-loud moments. There were a number of chuckles this time around, too. Ferguson is witty and concise, his characters are likeable, and his insight into the human psyche is spot-on as well as amusing.