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Shelf Life of Happiness

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4.24  ·  Rating details ·  17 ratings  ·  7 reviews
In these bittersweet, compelling stories, Virginia Pye’s characters long for that most elusive of states: happiness. A young skateboarder reaches across an awesome gap to reconnect with his disapproving father; an elderly painter executes one final, violent gesture to memorialize his work; a newly married writer battles the urge to implode his happy marriage; and a confuse ...more
Paperback, 170 pages
Published October 23rd 2018 by Press 53
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4.24  · 
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 ·  17 ratings  ·  7 reviews


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Mel
Feb 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
Wow. Here is a collection of rather stunning short stories, spanning varied ideals and lives, each succeeding in quietly unsettling my mind. The writing is so sure of itself, it was quite satisfying to get to the end of each story. Not to oversimplify, they are about: a man meeting his dying friend to act as best man in his Reno wedding; a woman traveling with her children in Italy; an art dealer (and a stray dog); an aspiring skater, his tag-along brother, and their condescending father; the br ...more
Clifford
Sep 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Full review: https://cliffordgarstang.com/book-rev...

Although the settings in the stories are varied and the central characters unique, the stories share a contemporary sense of disquiet and longing. They ask themselves what is it going to take to make them happy, and how will they know when they’ve achieved their desire. It’s a wonderful collection by a fine writer.

[click on url to see the full review]
Jennifer S. Brown
Nov 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: short-stories
This collection of short stories is a gorgeous meditation on the pursuit of happiness in all its bittersweetness. While the stories aren't linked, they work well together, and I found myself lost in the world of each story. The characters were so relatable: the mother in Italy who derails her life, the teenager both longing for and wanting to push away his father, the aging artist who makes a bold move that alters the course of his career. This is the kind of book that's difficult to read quickl ...more
Jennifer Spiegel
Feb 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is a lovely collection of short stories. It would be difficult to identify my favorite (maybe "New Year's Day"?), but there was this unique aspect that they all seemed to share: I found each story to possess something insistent or forward-moving. I read hungrily towards the end always. And every protagonist had an inner life laid bare.

I was pretty impressed by Pye's rendition of an adolescent boy. She did a great job!
Jaclyn Bauer
Nov 12, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelf Life of Happiness by Virginia Pye is a book about the expiration of happiness: the end of its shelf life.

In Pye’s collection of short stories, ordinary characters find themselves with everything they could’ve wished for, or nothing they ever wanted, and either way, the equation equals despair, longing, or defeat. While some characters may find glimmers of the happiness they seek or even the insight of a way out, we as the reader are left to wonder if they’ll pursue that happiness or not.

In
...more
Julie
Jan 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this slim volume of stories. Each one felt true, characters to whom I could relate (though I’ve never been in any of these circumstances). From the adolescent boy aching to be accepted by skater pros while still needing his father to the woman caring for her aging parents and her mother’s beloved garden, these stories warmed my heart. A dying man orchestrates the ultimate gift to his college roommate; a woman on vacation in Italy figures out how to move forward from the brink of ...more
A.B.
Jan 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
These stories feel very real, the subjects interesting (not same old, same old), Pye's treatment original and insightful. I really enjoyed this collection.
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Sep 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)
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Virginia Pye is the author of two award-winning novels, Dreams of the Red Phoenix and River of Dust, and the forthcoming short story collection, Shelf Life of Happiness. Her stories, essays, and interviews have appeared in The North American Review, The Baltimore Review, Literary Hub, The New York Times, The Rumpus, Huffington Post and elsewhere. She lived in Richmond, Virginia for many years and ...more