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You Must Be This Happy to Enter

3.74  ·  Rating Details  ·  297 Ratings  ·  72 Reviews
Whether breathlessly enthusiastic, serenely calm, or really concentrating right now on their personal zombie issues, Elizabeth Crane’s happy cast explores the complexities behind personal satisfaction.

Elizabeth Crane is the author of two previous story collections, When the Messenger is Hot and All This Heavenly Glory. Her work has also been featured in numerous publicatio
Paperback, 250 pages
Published February 1st 2008 by Akashic Books
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(showing 1-30 of 647)
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Jun 01, 2008 Rory rated it it was ok
oh my god! this book is so irritatingly cutesy-angsty-hipster-overly-everything! the first story features an exclamation mark after each sentence! how does this shit get published without the editors retching all over the manuscripts?!

sorry. i hope you didn't like it.
Apr 07, 2008 Susannah rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: happy people, unhappy people
How hard is it to write stories about happy people? Hard. Crane took on the challenge with this book and did a fine and multitextured job. These stories are zany and sweet and funny. And I give Crane major props for continuing to define for herself what "story" can be, for refusing to squash her sensibility and style into any safe, prescribed form.
Feb 15, 2008 Laura rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
As another reviewer here said, given this title of this book, you may be afraid that this book drips with so much irony that it will slip out of your hands as you read it. Don't be. Irony is there at times, but it's applied with a light hand, and Crane is about as funny and surefooted a writer as you'll find, without any of the arch, forced style that infects a lot of short story writers of her generation. And best of all, I'm damned if these stories don't actually give me some hope.
May 19, 2009 Jasmine rated it it was amazing
Shelves: american
This book is the Anti-The Littlest Hitler. It is full of absurdly happy people telling extremely weird stories, and pretending that they are happy stories. In fact the main difference between the two books occurs in pretense. Is the person pretending to be a good happy person or are they a miserable person who isn't paying any particular amount of attention.

I fell in love with this book within the first page. It was like Liz Prince. Love at first sight. Not to mention the doll on the cover.

Feb 15, 2008 Pia rated it it was amazing
Brave and funny meditations that start out with an engaging premise, a brilliant set up, and then plumb the depths, worries and hopes of the human heart.
Apr 27, 2008 Patrick rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2008
I think they front-loaded this Chicago native's collection with the really good stories, the rest are all kind of average. "My Life is Awesome! And Great!" only uses exclamation points and question marks to end sentences, another is about a woman from my hometown of Lombard, Il who is turned into a zombie after getting bit at JoAnn Fabrics and then stars on the reality show "Starting Over." That story also mentions the Container Store. Another good piece is just notes for writing a story about p ...more
Christine Palau
May 04, 2012 Christine Palau rated it it was amazing
This is fantasy for adults--not that kind! And I should say, I really don't like fantasy, and I'm not a big reader of short stories. But this is fantasy for adults who are obsessive compulsive and enjoy reading about other obsessed (but oddly likable) people. "Banana Lover" and "Promise" were my favorites--probably because I relate to those the most. Fun to read aloud, too!
Heidi Mckye
Jun 04, 2008 Heidi Mckye rated it really liked it
Jeezus Betsy Crane, you are so funny! Really it's kind of fantastic! Okay, more than kind of! I've discovered a love of exclamation!
Dec 27, 2010 Anna rated it really liked it
Most of the characters speak like your much more clever, sarcastic, yet oddly optimistic best friend. They may make stupid decisions and do the wrong things, but they're not stupid. The collection is clever and light; maybe slight but the writer is talented enough to make it seem refreshing that she doesn't try to more than what she is.

It's a very girlish collection of short stories, and very fun and funny. Her characters aren't afraid to admit they watch trashy reality shows, and the writer ge
Feb 03, 2008 Tripp rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: People who like books
With a title like You Must be This Happy to Enter, you might expect bucket loads of bitter irony. This third collection of stories by Elizabeth Crane is actually filled with laugh out loud humor, strange turns of events and stories that look realistically at the world, while maintaining the belief that life is worth living.

These stories are some of the best I have read in years, and remind me of another favorite, Ted Chiang. Like Chiang, Crane sets up bizarre situations (a woman goes through lif
Dec 31, 2008 jess rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction, 2008
I picked this up so I'd have some short stories to round out my 2008 reading list. It is adorable and dear in that This American Life sort of way (from WBEZ Chicago) and annoying and irrelevant in the same sort of way. There are moments I laughed & cheered - stories that overuse exclamation points, a woman turned into a zombie at the Jo-Anns Fabric Store, many reality tv show and internet references - including Livejournal's prominent role in one story. There were some drippy, dull, extra-ea ...more
Feb 28, 2008 Anne rated it really liked it
In her third collection, Elizabeth Crane explores through a range of edgy, fantastical stories what it means to be unironically happy...sometimes ironically, sometimes not. Each premise is boldly imaginative -- a zombie tries televised therapy; an entire town turns transparent, then gentrifies; the perfect guy not only leaves his girlfriend but encourages your stalker-like behavior; people get arrested for being happy, fired for being sincere. I applaud the author for managing to call our cynici ...more
Jun 05, 2012 Vincent rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
I kept hearing Alison Brie's character on Community, Annie, as I read the stories in this book. There is this purposeful superficial quality to the tone of voice in the writing -- a wide-eyed dreamy "detachedness" --that belies the heavier, darker observations the narrators in these stories seem to make unconsciously. It would be unbearable after a few stories, if there weren't a fantastic, sci-fi, Twilight-Zoney vibe thrown into the mix. In the story, "The Glistening Head of Ricky Ricardo Begs ...more
I thought this was uneven, half of the stories I loved and connected with the characters and got the humor and everything, but the other half of the stories, I didn't care at all. Still, well worth reading for the good stories I think! 2 of my favorite stories were Donovan's closet (about a woman who becomes obsessed with her boyfriend's lemon-smelling closet) and Varieties of Loudness in Chicago (observations about the people who live in the same neighborhood as the narrator).

Here's a quote fro
May 18, 2011 Cortney rated it really liked it
There's something brave about this collection I can't quite put my finger on. Maybe it's how these stories bounce around subjects that you aren't supposed to ever write about--a genuine belief in god, love between people that isn't fucked up, reality television, taking pleasure in clothes shopping, and the things everyone else is writing about badly (i.e. zombies). So there's that. Reading this book and enjoying the crap out of it is like telling grad school to go fuck itself, because these stor ...more
Dec 06, 2007 John rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone
I'm just a little over halfway through this, and I'm already going to give it five stars. I've been glued to this on the G train. I want the G train to keep going so I can finish these stories before I have to read other things for my day job.

The title's perfectly apt: YOU MUST BE THIS HAPPY TO ENTER, with a happy bunny/precious moments creature staring at you from the cover, arms spread wide like a kid who can grasp the concepts of measurement to some basic degree. While these are stories for
Feb 19, 2008 Rachel rated it really liked it
I've been a huge fan of Elizabeth Crane since When the Messenger is Hot. I appreciate the experimentation she does with the short story form -- it's like reading good performance art. It's exhilarating, weird, and daring, and above all, relentlessly contemporary.

This collection's best stories experiment with the completely mythical and the completely mundane (e.g., zombies and reality TV). Throughout, Crane has a devastatingly keen ear for modern language in all its hipster-ironic disposability
gwen g
Sep 29, 2008 gwen g rated it it was amazing
I'm finished with the Elizabeth Crane trifecta now, and I can't wait for her to write another book. This one was markedly different from the previous two sets of stories -- more fantastical, less self-conscious, more varied, even funnier.

I did miss her old constant narrator-character, who only popped up occasionally (most notably in a story about drinking... I'm forgetting the name, but it should be taught in college writing classes) but I love the magical realism direction she's going. I mean,
Dec 27, 2009 Anna rated it liked it
Initially, I was a little disappointed in these stories. I was excpecting them to be laugh out loud funny in a David Sedaris kind of way. They weren't. But, they did end up being extremely quirky, up beat, and very amusing. Many of the them flirt with a faith in God that surprised me as well. I am still puzzling out how I feel how this aspect of the stories. The real gem for me came at the very end of the collection. "Promise" is a particularly charming promise to a woman's unborn child. This on ...more
Marjorie Hakala
Aug 26, 2008 Marjorie Hakala marked it as unfinished
My brother just came back from Greece, where he apparently had some kind of life-changing Greek salad, and now he is sad every time he has to eat American produce. I just finished an A.S. Byatt anthology, and I could not bear to read more than four of the stories in this book. I'm not going to rate this one because I have no idea whether it was any good; all I know is that the level of hyper hipster ironic post-modernism here (a story consisting entirely of notes for a story, another that finis ...more
Greg Metcalf
Dec 02, 2012 Greg Metcalf rated it it was amazing
I am in love with the author of the first story in this collection!

Actually, the same author wrote all the stories in this collection! Also, I'm not really in love with her! It's just an expression! Hyperbole! All the stories in this collection are worth reading! Some just spoke to me more than others! Isn't that the sign of a good short story collection? I think it is! The first story was my favorite! The last story was my second favorite! The rest were in between! Get it? One story in this col
May 11, 2008 Trish rated it did not like it
I adore Crane's previous two short story collections, When the Messenger is Hot and All This Heavenly Glory. This one didn't connect with me. There's a lot of generic weirdness (mysterious words appear on a girl's forehead, an entire town turns transparent) but I felt these stories don't feel grounded or deep. My favorite, "What Our Week Was Like," feels complete as it quickly sketches, in Crane's trademark rattle-trap rambling, how a typical college girl slides into alcoholism, but this is fami ...more
Jan 28, 2016 Heather rated it it was amazing
fantastically funny. and by that i mean, fantastic in the whole "suspension of reality" way AND the "super rad" way.
Ross Helford
Aug 09, 2015 Ross Helford rated it it was amazing
A wonderful, funny, weird, constantly surprising collection by one of my absolute favorite writers.
Jun 05, 2008 Jocelyn rated it really liked it
I attended a reading by the author in Lincoln Square and had to grab the book. Elizabeth Crane is witty and the stories are the perfect length for my bus ride, while still having enough room to stretch out. I really dig the changes in format and tone, it really creates a separation of the stories not just in theme alone. I appreciated the inventiveness of the portrayal of a wide variety of stories of people and what makes them happy. I also appreciated being able to laugh at/with her characters, ...more
Jun 29, 2011 Amy rated it liked it
Clever little stories about relationships, consumerism, celebrity, and zombie crafts. Some of the stories read more like exercises in following an idea to its most logical yet absurd conclusion (such as selecting items for your banishment to a desert island) than actual narratives. And one story is about a baby that suddenly turns into Ethan Hawke but is still enough of a baby to need his diapers changed (I suspect this is probably true). If you thought Girl in the Flammable Skirt needed an anti ...more
Apr 29, 2008 Earball rated it liked it
Recommends it for: women, men who love women, zombies who love TV reality shows
I don't remember how I found this book! But I'm sure glad I did! Otherwise, I wouldn't know about the marital difficulties of a man and Betty his reality-TV loving wife, who happens to be also a zombie! I wouldn't know the stranger than life story of BLUE GIRL, who was afflicted/blessed by having random words appear on her forehead! In short, I wouldn't know about the bizarre stories that appear not on Elizabeth Crane's head, but from it! Now I'm grateful to have read about Donovan's Closet, but ...more
Melanie Page
I once heard on the radio that a band (can't remember which) were doing poorly because the lead singer was happy. I believe he was dating someone. Are all artists miserable? In world where sad things are sad, and I often feel sad myself, not knowing what to do about it, Crane's collection made me really happy. Each story is different, and I never knew what was going to come next. The theme of happiness really made the collection coherent.
Margaret Vincent
Mar 05, 2011 Margaret Vincent rated it really liked it
this is a really smart collection of short stories. about happiness. which is always such a slippery subject.

these stories are inventive, intelligent, slightly irreverent, and real. brilliantly executed. full of actual, complicated love. and with a unique and contemporary voice. toss in the stunningly universal pop culture references, and it's certainly worth a read.

it made me smile a lot while riding the train.
Mar 12, 2008 Lindsay rated it really liked it
I was a fan of Crane's previous two books of short stories, and her newest is very similar--lots of run-on sentences, quirky characters, and odd situations. Some of the more gimmicky stories (every sentence in "My Life is Great! And Awesome!" ends with--you guessed it--an exclamation point) got on my nerves a little, but for every one like that, there was one like "Promise," that made me wish I'd written it myself.
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Elizabeth Crane is the author of three collections of short stories: When the Messenger Is Hot and All This Heavenly Glory (Little, Brown) and You Must Be This Happy to Enter (Akashic Books). Her work has been featured in Other Voices, Mississippi Review, Bridge, the Chicago Reader, the Believer, and several anthologies including McSweeney’s Future Dictionary of America, The Best Underground Ficti ...more
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