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Happy: A Memoir
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Happy: A Memoir

3.33  ·  Rating details ·  386 Ratings  ·  77 Reviews
His freshman year of college, Alex Lemon was supposed to be the star catcher on the Macalester College baseball team. He was the boy getting every girl, the hard-partying kid everyone called Happy. In the spring of 1997, he had his first stroke. For two years Lemon coped with his deteriorating health by sinking deeper into alcohol and drug abuse. His charming and carefree ...more
ebook, 304 pages
Published January 29th 2010 by Scribner (first published December 7th 2009)
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Shin Yu
Nov 13, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Lemon’s memoir focuses on the diagnosis, treatment and recovery of a brain malformation which is discovered while the author is a young athlete at a tight-knit mid-Western liberal arts college. Lemon chronicles a hyper-masculine existence of drunken parties, substance abuse, male bonding, locker-room talk, and promiscuity and a substantial amount of the book’s dialogue is comprised of one expletive after another. The author indulges in a fair amount of physical abuse and self-mutilation of his o ...more
May 14, 2010 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir
This book really intrigued me, but the writing style drove me bananas. It's really just a series of recreated conversations, and college-age boys are just not that articulate, so there are a lot of passages that start with "dude" and are followed by a string of profanity. I mean, okay, but that doesn't really add to my experience as a reader. I just... I just didn't like the structure. It's imagistic, in that, as I said, it's really just a collection of conversations and very brief details of sp ...more
Jan 27, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I set out to read this all in one gulp, but I realized a little ways in that I was going to have to switch gears and move to smaller doses. Especially when the book moved into material about the brain surgery, the combination of the vividly-rendered scenes with rich language made it better to experience it in smaller intense bursts. The (often) short chapters really packed an emotional wallop, and I needed time to allow each one to land.

On the whole, this was a memoir bursting with life. Humor.
Jesse Field
Jul 06, 2010 rated it did not like it
"My new body. My girlfriend. My friends. My life. And I'm too afraid to let anyone see me. I've always been afraid people would think I was a pussy, and now, that's exactly what I am."

"Happy" is the story of the young American male. Probably it would be of great interest to anyone curious about what a wide range of ways to be angry really exist in this world. He loves his mother, but hates that love. His attachments to his friends are always ambiguous, and sealed only with sentences that contain
Kasa Cotugno
During his college freshman year Alex Lemon suffered his first stroke. An unexpected event in one so young, who was hugely popular, athletic, doing well in his classes. It's not often that the experience of a stroke has been shared with so much eloquence. But the fact was that Alex Lemon's disability is lodged in what one doctor describes as "an eloquent part of the brain." Lemon is a talented published poet, his third collection is coming out next month. But the irony of his nickname "Happy" is ...more
May 28, 2009 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Another "Editors' Buzz" book---this has the foundation of a "beating the odds" and "surviving illness and addiction" but supposedly is much more than that---Mom, this one I think you'd be interested in.
Mad Dog
Jan 24, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I found the book to be an 'experiential' book with regards to the author (Lemon's) outstanding conveyance of the experience of the brain injury. He wrote in such a way that 'made vivid' his own experience. Especially vivid is the part where he first walked and ran (after his surgery). That was a joyful and moving part of the book.

Beyond that, I got frustrated in Lemon's approach to the story. He spent much time detailing his college debauchery. This would have worked for me, but the writing did
Feb 09, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone who's ever had a life-changing illness or who needs inspiration.
This book was a quick read. I picked it up in the first place because I have had brain surgery too, as did my father and an ex-boyfriend. I can relate to the sensation of not knowing your own body anymore. Lemon describes this odd feeling with vibrant language and he captures it very well. Among the best descriptions: feeling yourself fall over to one side as if in slo-mo and not being able to do anything about it, the vertigo (which I still have 23 years after my operation), the double vision, ...more
Bookmarks Magazine
Feb 08, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mar-apr-2010
Many of Happy's enthusiastic reviewers seemed to feel the need to begin with an apology. Sure, there are lots of books out there about young people confronting fatal diseases and just as many no-holds-barred chronicles of men leaving adolescence behind (though not without letting us in on the best parts first). But as Laura Miller of observed, "this one is something special." Perhaps it's the fact that Lemon's later career would prove he had a poet inside him the whole time: some of th ...more
May 22, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir
This was not as good as I expected. I thought the premise was interesting. A boy around my age suffers from multiple strokes, and his struggle with the debilitating symptoms of brain hemorrhaging is chronicled. Because his life is drastically changed, he turns to drugs and alcohol to get through the ordeal. He also goes through a personality change, becoming aggressive toward his family and friends.

The premise is not what I had a problem with. It was the erratic writing. In some parts, he tries
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Alex Lemon's poetry collections include Hallelujah Blackout (2008 Milkweed Editions) and Mosquito (Tin House Books 2006). A memoir is also forthcoming from Scribner. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in numerous magazines including AGNI, BOMB, Denver Quarterly Gulf Coast, Kenyon Review, New England Review, Pleiades and Tin House. Among his awards are a 2005 Literature Fellowship in Poetry ...more
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