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Half as Happy

3.93  ·  Rating details ·  43 ratings  ·  18 reviews
A grieving couple rents a desperate landlord's house in an effort to recover lost intimacy. Twins are irrevocably separated by events both beyond and within their control. A nighttime prank and its gruesome aftermath forge human connections no one could have anticipated.

The eight stories in Half as Happy reveal with startling clarity their characters' secrets, losses, and
Paperback, 188 pages
Published April 16th 2013 by Engine Books (first published March 22nd 2013)
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3.93  · 
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 ·  43 ratings  ·  18 reviews

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Bookkaholic Magazine
Sep 12, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: literary-fiction
(See our full review over at Bookkaholic.) Spatz plays around, as his title suggests, with ideas of halves and doubles. His characters live with a constant sense of incompleteness, as if there is always someone or something missing from their lives; they may not be half as happy as they dream they could be, but they muddle through in the real world, looking for second chances where they can. The author has an intimate understanding of the lives and motivations of ordinary people.
Claudia Putnam
Apr 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: literary-fiction
--Upgrading to 5 stars because this has stayed with me over time.

It's always hard to rate a story collection exactly, because some pieces are 5 and others are maybe 3, and even the 3s have some 5-star moments. And sometimes it's just a matter of what strikes you at a particular moment or period in your life. Overall I loved this book. The writing is clean and sparkling and yet has emotional slam. I dog-eared many, many pages.

In the first story, a woman deeply loves the man she is about to marr
Lori L (She Treads Softly)
May 21, 2013 rated it it was amazing
My one regret while reading Half as Happy by Gregory Spatz is that I didn't have the time to savor the stories and the writing quite as much as it deserves to be appreciated. This collection of eight short stories is expertly wrought with a great attention to details and descriptions. It's the kind of collection that could turn anyone into a fan of the art of the short story.

The collection includes:
"Any Landlord's Dream" concerns a couple who rent a house in the attempt to help them recover from
Sara Habein
May 06, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: arc, own
You know a book is good if you only stop reading so that you can tell the author, at 1 AM via Facebook, how much you are enjoying it. The evening I began reading it, I'd plans to watch Doctor Who, which, if you know me, is serious business. I thought I would read a little, then turn on the TV. No, I kept reading. Let it be known: Gregory Spatz's new story collection, Half as Happy, is a wonderfully gratifying little book.

This is the passage, from the story “Happy For You,” that had me thinking,
May 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Gregory Spatz's short story collection HALF AS HAPPY brings generosity but also ruthless attention to language and structure to each story. Each sentence reveals Spatz's attention to rhythm and character. The longer stories unfold at a leisurely pace, but readers are rewarded with endings that resonate long after reading. The stories, linked according to images and themes, work together as cohesive collection. The opening story, "Any Landlord's Dream" establishes the nuanced attention to relatio ...more
Mar 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Many writers have a distinct voice, which is a wonderful quality but can become monotonous in a short story collection where every character sounds the same. Spatz manages to inhabit a wild variety of characters in each of these stories, rendering each story a different experience. I found that rather than plow through them all in one go, I had to read just one at a time, allowing myself to savor a story and mull over it before moving on to the next one.
Jun 21, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Loved losing myself in Spatz's long dexterous sentences.
Lisa Eckstein
Aug 29, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-2013
The stories in this collection focus on familiar emotions and relationships between people, and they tend toward the introspective, with many examples of characters mulling over their lives and past events and where they went wrong. This is the kind of story that tends to be depressing, but there were also great moments of humor throughout.

As with any collection, I liked some stories better than others. My favorites were the first and last in the book. "Any Landlord's Dream" is about a marriage
Natalie E. Ramm
May 13, 2013 rated it liked it
Half as Happy is a group of short stories by Gregory Spatz that encompasses a variety of situations including the loss of a child, eating disorders, marriage in later years, twins separated at birth, and a group of youths getting into trouble. The stories are written with a beautiful almost dreamlike quality. They jump from scene to scene and never end quite where you would expect them. Though they can be hard to follow for lack of spacing and the stream of consciousness quality in some of the s ...more
Mar 26, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: reviewed
Very promising collection, and I say that as a reader who doesn't generally care for short stories. Spatz is a terrific writer, and pretty insightful--I thought he was particularly intelligent about the randomness of life. I hope he writes a novel; I would certainly read it.
Apr 10, 2013 rated it liked it
See more reviews at The Best Books Ever!

Author Gregory Spatz has assembled a collection of dense, intricate short stories in Half as Happy. While your average short story just gives you a sketch of who the characters are, or maybe feels like it could be part of a large work, Spatz's stories feel fully realized. His writing style is rich with detail and flows in an almost stream-of-consciousness sort of way, which can get a bit overwhelming at times, but which serves the narrative voice of the st
Morninglight Mama
Jan 16, 2016 rated it really liked it
If you're looking for sunshine and joy, this is not the collection of short stories for you. But, if you're wanting a reading experience with depth, these eight tales will wow, all linked by common themes of disenchantment, loss, and a depth of human emotions. While there is no abundance of joy in this collection, the beauty here is to be found in the sorrow and the complexities of each tale. Though the stories are short, they are to be savored. Too often, I found myself rushing through, propell ...more
Tracy Robertson
Apr 14, 2013 rated it it was ok
I hated the authors run on and on and on paragraphs! One paragraph often took up more than an entire page, and it wasn't easy on the eyes. While the topics of each story sounded so interesting to me, I was always dissapointed by the author losing focus on what was going on, and obsessively over-describing every little detail, no matter how loosely it related to the story. The title story "Half as Happy" was by far the best in this collection to me, and if not for that, I would have given the boo ...more
Ali Lafferty
Apr 13, 2014 rated it liked it
I feel like I didn't always understand as much as I should have about the stories, but I really liked these. I liked how they all focused on a sort of duality, and how they all had to do with finding and losing things. I especially liked Half As Happy and String, but all the stories were pretty good. Not sure if I would read anything else by this author but this was a nice little collection.
PacaLipstick Gramma
Apr 14, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: goodreads-win
I received this from a Goodreads Giveaway.

The several short stories in this book are quite lyrical and at times almost poetic. Personally, it was not I normally read, but the venue was a change of pace. Some of the stories were okay, some better. A lot of food for thought!

The writing is very good, but it was just not my kind of reading.
(See my full review at:

Spatz’s host of ordinary characters dwell somewhere between dreams of exotic grandeur and the bitter reality of disappointed suburban life. He has an intimate understanding of the lives and motivations of average people, and a good ear for striking, alliterative phrases.
Some of these stories are slow going, some an easier read -- but there are some human truths that resonate in each, and definitely some familiar observations on the challenges of life and human interaction.
Sarah Olivo
just ok
Michelle Go
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Ivory C
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Apr 23, 2013
Megan Rowe
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May 25, 2015
Caridwen Irvine-spatz
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GREGORY SPATZ is the author of the novels INUKSHUK (Bellevue Lit. Press, June 2012) FIDDLER'S DREAM and NO ONE BUT US, and of the story collections HALF AS HAPPY (2013) and WONDERFUL TRICKS. His stories have appeared in many publications, including The New Yorker, Glimmer Train Stories, Shenandoah, Epoch, Kenyon Review and New England Review. The recipient of a Michener Fellowship, an Iowa Arts Fe ...more
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