Sunday, January 31, 2010

Book review: Happy: A Memoir

Posted By on Sun, Jan 31, 2010 at 7:03 AM

Outwardly, Alex Lemon is a typical obnoxious college freshman. His language is filthy, his parties are wild, his academic life is an afterthought. To his friends, Alex leads a idyllic life, one befitting of one of those nicknames, Happy. Everyone on campus knows him as Happy.

But Alex's brain is bleeding. He has suffered a stroke from a malformation in his brain stem but it takes months before he gets help.

Worse, his dark childhood has programmed him to fake happiness and normalcy until it becomes almost real. He abuses drugs, alcohol and college boy shenanigans to wipe it away. But none of his usual tricks will curb his condition, or his painful years of surgeries and recoveries.

Lemon has published three books of poetry and it shows; his emphasis on words outshines his plot at times. But that's OK, since his descriptions of the time he spent stumbling out of bed, attempting to play baseball and partying are beautifully creative, vivid and brutal.

I must have drunk a bottle of Drano last night, snorted a bag of glass, and leapt open-armed from the top of the stairs. A tree. A roof. The moon.

Happy is an often vicious book. Alex is almost insufferable at times, he can be rude and mean. But you never pity him, even when he's feeling sorry for himself. Lemon's precise accounts of his symptoms are of such incredible language you get the feeling that he has more strength within than he knows.

Extra points for badass cover.
  • Extra points for the badass cover.

Check out an interview with Lemon on Amazon.

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