How To Be Happy
Eleanor Davis's How to be Happy is the artist's first collection of graphic/literary short stories. Davis is one of the finest cartoonists of her generation, and has been producing comics since the mid-2000s. Happy represents the best stories she's drawn for such curatorial venues as Mome and No-Brow, as well as her own self-publishing and web efforts. Davis achieves a rare, subtle poignancy in her narratives that are at once compelling and elusive, pregnant with mystery and a deeply satisfying emotional resonance. Happy shows the full range of Davis's graphic skills -- sketchy drawing, polished pen and ink line work, and meticulously designed full color painted panels-- which are always in the service of a narrative that builds to a quietly devastating climax.

How To Be Happy Details

TitleHow To Be Happy
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseJul 10th, 2014
PublisherFantagraphics
ISBN-139781606997406
Rating
GenreSequential Art, Graphic Novels, Comics, Short Stories, Fiction, Graphic Novels Comics

How To Be Happy Review

  • Nat
    January 1, 1970
    This book has one of the most beautiful covers I have ever seen. I’m in awe.How To Be Happy is a collection of graphic/literary short stories, which are two of my favorite things combined into one. I was doomed to give this 5 stars.And I would have if I was rating it solely based on the illustrations, but the execution of the stories was a little confusing.Every time I didn’t get the ending of the storyline, I would feel a little foolish— which I really don’t like feeling while reading.But the This book has one of the most beautiful covers I have ever seen. I’m in awe.How To Be Happy is a collection of graphic/literary short stories, which are two of my favorite things combined into one. I was doomed to give this 5 stars.And I would have if I was rating it solely based on the illustrations, but the execution of the stories was a little confusing.Every time I didn’t get the ending of the storyline, I would feel a little foolish— which I really don’t like feeling while reading.But the art featured in this collection was just utterly whimsical. Trust me when I say that it was nearly impossible to not feature every out-of-this-world illustration. I literally had to stop multiple times while reading because I was in awe over how beautiful everything was.Here are a few of my favorites (out of too many): My favorite stories were In Our Eden and Summer Snakes.So, so beautiful.*Note: I'm an Amazon Affiliate. If you're interested in buying How To Be Happy, just click on the image below to go through my link. I'll make a small commission!* This review and more can be found on my blog.
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  • Jan Philipzig
    January 1, 1970
    I enjoyed the contrasting visual styles that range from bold watercolors to loose pencilling, but I am afraid the stories just did not grab me. Some felt too inchoate or wilfully obscure to get a potentially interesting idea across, others were more fully realized but surprisingly unoriginal. While there were a few nice touches here and there (I loved the strong dude's facial expression on that story's final page!), as a whole this did not add up to much for me.
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  • Grg
    January 1, 1970
    If I could write a review of this book as beautiful as the book itself, you would cry, like a mother cries at seeing her new born baby for the first time.
  • David Schaafsma
    January 1, 1970
    It's colorful. Davis makes a special point of saying this book is NOT how to be happy, no not at all… so what I expect she means about this is that it is not intended to be a self-help book, but a kind of multivaried look at the idea of happiness. . . what it is, and what it is not. And other stuff maybe related to happiness, though it's not always obvious… but why be obvious?Davis is a great, watercolor illustrator. . . and she does a variety of great and beautiful things, but that variety does It's colorful. Davis makes a special point of saying this book is NOT how to be happy, no not at all… so what I expect she means about this is that it is not intended to be a self-help book, but a kind of multivaried look at the idea of happiness. . . what it is, and what it is not. And other stuff maybe related to happiness, though it's not always obvious… but why be obvious?Davis is a great, watercolor illustrator. . . and she does a variety of great and beautiful things, but that variety doesn't seem to coalesce in any way to give us an idea what she thinks. . . or maybe that is the point. . . she's trying to evoke rather than pontificate… but still, it seems kinda vague to me rather than truly deeply probing. Maybe it's just me, I dunno. The ideas were just okay for me; the art was great . .. but in the service of what ideas? An exploratory book, and why not? It's beautiful, but I just wasn't grabbed by it.
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  • missy
    January 1, 1970
    "This is not a book on how to be happy," says Eleanor Davis at the beginning of this lovely collection of graphic short stories. With unique expression and sentiments half-said, Davis draws strange, lonely, meaningful worlds for us. Despite the title, her pictures of sadness are the largest and most vivid, but it's pull of the communion that keeps it together. It's teacup fragile, and worth trying.
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  • First Second Books
    January 1, 1970
    I like HOW TO BE HAPPY as much as anything I've read in the last five years.
  • Patricia
    January 1, 1970
    I'm thinking the connecting message behind the vignettes is that we aren't alone in our sadness???? Beautiful graphics- the segment of the skinning of the fox is hard to get through. Please explain this book to me if you wish.
  • Lauren
    January 1, 1970
    How to Be Happy defies the self-helpy title with several melancholy and satirical vignettes, accompanied by breathtaking artwork in several styles (watercolor, sketching, traditional comic heavy-lined paneled pen/ink). Observational in its approach, many of the vignettes are like overhearing a conversation at the next table over... just a little slice of emotion or pathos that is removed from context, yet highly applicable to your own life and situations. It surprised me, and scratched an itch t How to Be Happy defies the self-helpy title with several melancholy and satirical vignettes, accompanied by breathtaking artwork in several styles (watercolor, sketching, traditional comic heavy-lined paneled pen/ink). Observational in its approach, many of the vignettes are like overhearing a conversation at the next table over... just a little slice of emotion or pathos that is removed from context, yet highly applicable to your own life and situations. It surprised me, and scratched an itch that I didn't even know I had.
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  • Dov Zeller
    January 1, 1970
    In some sequential art story collections I really enjoy the variety and even the inconsistency, the different styles of art and narrative. In this one I found it a bit distracting, the shifting narratives and modes, and I was torn between rating it a 3 and a 4. But there is a richness that stays with me and sort of deepens in retrospect, so I am giving this one a four. This is a dogged exploration of idealism and the unhappiness it creates and more than that, the destruction it leaves in its wak In some sequential art story collections I really enjoy the variety and even the inconsistency, the different styles of art and narrative. In this one I found it a bit distracting, the shifting narratives and modes, and I was torn between rating it a 3 and a 4. But there is a richness that stays with me and sort of deepens in retrospect, so I am giving this one a four. This is a dogged exploration of idealism and the unhappiness it creates and more than that, the destruction it leaves in its wake. In that sense I think it's an admirable, important, thought-provoking work.I struggled with the art on the first reading. It felt like, well, like it wasn't really my thing. But, again, looking back I really appreciate the ugly beauty of it. The beauty is unconventional and un-uniform, challenging, overdone and yet, at times, incomplete. In some stories it's lush to the point of excess, entering the outer borders of the grotesque. This is just one of the many ways "How To Be Happy" sets out, I think, to make us question the way we are seeing and the things we are looking for in a story. As a whole, this is a collection that values complexity and irresolution over control and refinement. There is a messy sadness in here, a failure of answers to appear at their appointed times and places. There is a sweetness, a recognition from the first story to the last, that home may not be perfect, it may not even be real -- there is, after all, no paradisiacal garden to return to (there's a story that directly addresses an attempted return to the Garden). But somewhere within us, this book seems to whisper throughout, there is a sensation of home, if we listen for it, and if we allow this home to be the imperfect thing that it is. Maybe, if we let it, that can be enough to get us through these strange journeys we're on.I tend to enjoy stories that lovingly mock human fantasies of simpler, better times. "How To Be Happy" does this. It reminds us that there is no simpler time to return to. And while moments of joy may reverberate throughout our lives, and occasionally even drown out the louder call of bewilderment, the ideal of happiness is an insidious fiction that often keeps us from something much more attainable, such as acceptance, deep connection, and if we're lucky, maybe even contentment.
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  • Katrina
    January 1, 1970
    This was just not my cup of tea. I can appreciate it for what it is, but it just didn't do it for me.I'll make a pros and cons list here to show you what I did and (mostly) didn't like about it.Pros: -I thought the art style was unique as to other graphic novels. -I liked the first (or one of the first stories). It was one of the longest and had the most depth to it, in my opinion.-Besides that, I liked maybe one other story.Cons:-Hard to follow. Most stories were a page or two, which meant that This was just not my cup of tea. I can appreciate it for what it is, but it just didn't do it for me.I'll make a pros and cons list here to show you what I did and (mostly) didn't like about it.Pros: -I thought the art style was unique as to other graphic novels. -I liked the first (or one of the first stories). It was one of the longest and had the most depth to it, in my opinion.-Besides that, I liked maybe one other story.Cons:-Hard to follow. Most stories were a page or two, which meant that you didn't get attached to the characters. You also didn't get much from it because it was so short.-Since the stories were so short, they felt very choppy.-I know I said the art style was unique, which it was, but that doesn't mean I liked it.-The title is super misleading! I wasn't looking for a book on "How to be Happy," but a book on feel good stories would have been more accurate. I know they said at the beginning (in super tiny print) that this book wasn't about happiness, but come on!Overall, I didn't have any expectations going into this book, but I left feeling very disappointed. 2/5 stars
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  • Abbi Dion
    January 1, 1970
    Strange, lyrical, thought-provoking, beautiful, sad, open-ended...
  • Seth T.
    January 1, 1970
    You wake up from the perfect night’s sleep, your cycle having been monitored and corrected by the room’s somnometer. You eat a refreshing morning meal, calculated to your tastes and nutritional needs. You’re ready for a day of doing things both that you love and that will contribute to the society. You are healthy, rested, secure, and fulfilled. Life is good and you feel good about it. And it’s all due to this wonder-filled civilization you’ve inherited, perfect in every way. You think. I mean, You wake up from the perfect night’s sleep, your cycle having been monitored and corrected by the room’s somnometer. You eat a refreshing morning meal, calculated to your tastes and nutritional needs. You’re ready for a day of doing things both that you love and that will contribute to the society. You are healthy, rested, secure, and fulfilled. Life is good and you feel good about it. And it’s all due to this wonder-filled civilization you’ve inherited, perfect in every way. You think. I mean, maybe there’s this little nagging something at the back of your mind, but maybe there’s not. It’s not like you could tell—not with how amazing everything is._____I haven’t read a lot of science fiction criticism—or really and honestly, any science fiction criticism—but I have to imagine the idea that utopia and dystopia are some kind of synonym is pretty commonplace. It’s pretty facile on the face of it, the concept that any man-made paradise is going to suffer from ultimate problems that render it a false Eden. Whether a utopian society is such because of its citizens’ willful ignorance of the flaws in the system (a la the Eloi in Wells’ Time Machine) or because of its citizen’s blithe willingness to exploit another group (a la Fritz Lang’s Metropolis) or because of its fascist management of thought and speech (a la Vonnegut’s “Harrison Bergeron”)—whichever the case, because of the natural pluralism of the human community, our only access to utopia could ever be through a negligent imagination, a kind of naive carelessness.Some of the less inventive works pick at the easy fruit of dystopia, presenting broken societies from the outset, worlds in which the inequities are both made obvious and then capitalized on from their earliest chapters. Hunger Games' inequitous Districts make for a recent popular example. Blade Runner, too, presents an amazing futureworld, but even from the opening credits we know that the high-science future is dirty and grim and awful. More intriguing by a margin are those books and films that explore a perfect world only to eventually find cracks that turn to crevices. These are necessarily going to be rare because a beautiful world without conflict makes for a boring story. And then there’re the few books that present full-fledged utopias. I haven’t read in the niche extensively, but they’re difficult books to pull off—1) because story conflict has a hard time existing in a true utopia, and 2) because most readers will scoff at the author’s naïveté.Two interesting examples of straight utopian literature, both from Kurt Vonnegut, include Galapagos and “Unready to Wear.” Galapagos entertains the high-concept of being narrated from billions of years in the future by a ghost from the 20th century who flits above a world in which our humanity has long been extincted and replaced by a kind of peaceful human/seal hybrid. The implication, of course, is that in order for humanity to arrive at anything resembling a utopia, it’d first have to quit its humanity. “Unready to Wear,” an earlier work, prototypically explores the idea by positing an evolved humanity who have solved all of their problems by shaking off the sweaty, itchy, irritating bother of the human flesh. Again, humanity must become other than itself in order to have a hope of paradise.[1]For her part, Eleanor Davis spends almost the entirety of How to Be Happy offering a delicious exploration of the tie between utopia and dystopia, between paradise and infernal paradise. It’s a fine balancing act, funambulating between hope and despair, but she travels back and forth the distance with sure feet. On only two occasions amongst the collection of shorts does Davis overtly invoke the concepts of utopia and dystopia (once even going so far as to use the word dystopia itself), but for the most part she keeps the theme as mere atmospheric hum. One could be forgiven for not using the idea of earthly paradise as a governing filter for the work if it weren’t for the book’s title, How to Be Happy.Utopia, the word, is derived from two pieces. The first, eu-, means “good” and sees itself in common English use in euthanasia and euphemism[2]. The second, topos, means place and we see this term crop up in the cartographic practice of mapping topography. Utopia, then, is a good place, a kingdom of peace and security. Of happiness. A society coming to a place of peace via learning how to be happy is an essential piece of utopian presence. Without a general sense of happiness (no matter how broadly we define happiness) amongst the beneficiaries of a society, we have no utopia.But while Davis occasionally speaks to the books’ ruling concept in terms of societal shifts (especially in the second short, “Nita Goes Home,” and on a smaller paleosocietal sense in the first story, “In Our Eden”), she mainly concerns herself with examining the attempts to escape dystopia in the detritus of much smaller-scale kingdoms. A boy seeks to perfect the world of his experience by maintaining ultimate control over a younger boy’s interactions with him by a mix of psychological and physical aggressions (“Thomas the Leader”). A musician exercises a pacific effect over the animals of the wilderness through the sound of his guitar and seeks to bring an animal woman into his domain through the same tools, even against her nature (“Sticks and Strings”). A woman submits herself to the tutoring (governance) of a personal growth guru in order to find peace and joy in the world through tears (“No tears, No Sorrow”). In another, a young man becomes friends and more with a young woman because of his ardent interest in the woman’s father, only to be discovered by the reader (in a perfect fourth-wall moment) capitulating to the woman’s sexual advances in opposition to What He Really Wants (“Summer Snakes”). There are other stories, but the final narrative note seems to underscore the thesis (and echo in a way Vonnegut’s solutions), suggesting that the human mind in its present state is the chief obstacle to utopia and we are better off freeing ourselves from its dystopic tyranny. She leaves the means to that end unstated and amorphous—whether by suicide or pharmaceutical intervention or altered mindstates or metaterrestial intervention—and the collection is probably more palatable for the ambiguity, because while we’re happy to be given an inkling of her answer, the American way is to bristle at any lifestyle solution that is offered as anything close to an actual suggestion.I was originally mildly disappointed in Davis’ choice for the one-page final story, preferring the one-page story that immediately precedes it, a powerful and wonderfully conceived exhibition of perspectival shift that offers nearly the same conclusion, only slightly less overtly stated. After several readings, I’m satisfied that Davis’ choice actually is the better ending in that it more succinctly ties together the disparate threads of her otherwise conclusion-eliding narrative pieces. How to Be Happy appears as a dialogue or argument between a handful of ideologies unaware of each other’s presence. They don’t interact directly and orate as if theirs was the only voice in the room. Davis emphasizes this sense by illustrating many of these episodes using entirely different techniques and employing entirely different styles. One story appears as a colourful screenprint with absolutely no linework. The next could have been drawn with a Uni-Ball and features an oversaturation of watercolours. One has very detailed illustrations with strong negative space and sepia tones, another is washed and gentle with mysterious and lovely creatures, another is straight black-and-white with drawings that call to mind the childhood adventures of Nate Powell’s Any Empire. And there’s more. Davis is clearly talented and diverse. If one wasn’t aware, it would be easy to mistake Davis for the collection’s editor and the individual stories as the anthologic production of a number of artists.[3]This is my first encounter with Eleanor Davis and her work. I appreciated my time in her worlds. She offers plenty of food for the hungry of thought—even if thought may ultimately be the root of our troubles. Davis invites readers into realms of nostalgia and of mystery and of existential terror. The portholes through which we can view these kingdoms of hope and pain are small and smudged, but we see enough. Enough to apprehend them, enough perhaps even to judge them. And certainly enough to enjoy the experience of their lessons. ]_______[Review courtesy of Good Ok Bad.]_______Footnotes1) Interestingly, the Christian story fits well enough with Vonnegut’s cynicism toward the human endeavor and also demands humanity to evolve into something we wouldn’t quite recognize as human—only a brave new species of humankind could ever traipse around a heaven or a new earthly paradise or what have you and not start a war within a year or a month.2) Eu (good) + thanatos (death) = euthanasia, and is concerned with people dying a good or peaceful death with dignity.Eu (good) + pheme (speak) = euphemism, the broaching of brute ideas via evocative but less volatile words, e.g. time of the month for menstruating.3) I picked up How to Be Happy on the same day as I did Emily Carroll’s Through the Woods. Both are short story collections, but the difference is striking by the proximity. Carroll’s collection evidences a kind of evolution of style, but it is always obviously obviously Emily Carroll. There is no mistaking her work. Davis, on the other hand, plays all over the map.
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  • Nicola Mansfield
    January 1, 1970
    I liked this. It's a bit weird and different but, yeah, I liked it. A collection of short stories, drawings and sketches that centre on the things people do trying to make themselves happy. I found the main theme to be the difference between ideology and reality. A woman is telling a friend of her deep, dark, black hole of depression and the friend sympathises that she understands, she's been there, that is until she went Gluten-Free. Then in the last frame we see the depressed woman in the supe I liked this. It's a bit weird and different but, yeah, I liked it. A collection of short stories, drawings and sketches that centre on the things people do trying to make themselves happy. I found the main theme to be the difference between ideology and reality. A woman is telling a friend of her deep, dark, black hole of depression and the friend sympathises that she understands, she's been there, that is until she went Gluten-Free. Then in the last frame we see the depressed woman in the supermarket desperately holding a loaf of gluten-free bread. Another is futuristic where a sister lives in a dome, farming, growing organic fruits and vegetables. Then she returns home when her father is dying. Home is the city where people where environmental suits, her sister here can't afford to buy organic fruit. The dome-living sister is hit with the reality that the suffering still exists even when she doesn't see it in her way of life and her beliefs can't be upheld here. It does go deeper still. All the stories make one think this way. I'll say a few went over my head and not all are as depressing as the two I described. The sketches between the stories give a more uplifting pause. I'm not a big fan of Davis' art but it is bold and eye-catching, the palate is warm with reds, orange, browns and yellows which adds a different nuance to what the themes are saying; bringing the feel of life to melancholy stories. I like it but it is *very* different from her previous books for young children.
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  • Flannery
    January 1, 1970
    3.5. The art in this one is to die for but the stories aren't as consistently good.
  • Melody
    January 1, 1970
    BEAUTIFUL!!! Oh my God, some of these pages are just gorgeous. The line art is gorgeous, the details are gorgeous, the emotion is gorgeous. I hate that I only 'got' about half of these stories. I wanted to love this so badly, because her stories about depression and filling voids in ones life are so damn good. She gets it, but some of these stories were too plain weird for me. Beautiful, but weird. Too weird to glean what the point was. Or maybe that was the point? That life is weird and you hav BEAUTIFUL!!! Oh my God, some of these pages are just gorgeous. The line art is gorgeous, the details are gorgeous, the emotion is gorgeous. I hate that I only 'got' about half of these stories. I wanted to love this so badly, because her stories about depression and filling voids in ones life are so damn good. She gets it, but some of these stories were too plain weird for me. Beautiful, but weird. Too weird to glean what the point was. Or maybe that was the point? That life is weird and you have to chill and just enjoy the simple parts, the beauty, the emotion. Anyway, this was lovely to look at. LOVELY. Eleanor Davis is a hell of an illustrator. Jury's still out on her story telling abilities.
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  • Nate
    January 1, 1970
    One of those rare moments where as I'm reading this incredible collection I realize this is something unique and special that doesn't come along very often.
  • BiblioBrandie
    January 1, 1970
    I just didn't get this. Too out there for me.
  • Candace
    January 1, 1970
    I liked some of the stories more than others, but the art was beautiful throughout and I felt it was a worthwhile time, what I spent reading through this.
  • Katlin
    January 1, 1970
    This graphic short story collection is everything - charming, heartbreaking, joyful, and so human.
  • Robert
    January 1, 1970
    Eleanor Davis's stories in How to Be Happy remind me of those of Lille Carré in her Heads or Tails collection, also from Fantagraphics. Both books feature strong elements of fantasy, magical realism, and even science fiction to comment on modern society, human interactions, humankind’s oft-uneasy relationship with nature, and existential matters. While I really like Carré’s work a lot it sometimes feels more clever than fully felt and she occasionally leans over a bit too much into the twee for Eleanor Davis's stories in How to Be Happy remind me of those of Lille Carré in her Heads or Tails collection, also from Fantagraphics. Both books feature strong elements of fantasy, magical realism, and even science fiction to comment on modern society, human interactions, humankind’s oft-uneasy relationship with nature, and existential matters. While I really like Carré’s work a lot it sometimes feels more clever than fully felt and she occasionally leans over a bit too much into the twee for my taste; Davis’s stories, though not directly autobiographical, have a more intense, personal feel, particularly when discussing depression and the ever-elusive search for happiness (there’s an Author’s Note in which Davis recommends a couple of books, including Depressed and Anxious: The Dialectical Behavior Therapy Workbook). How to be Happy is a strong, unified collection of alternately fanciful and dark stories featuring some real virtuoso cartooning and genuine emotion mixed with a nervous energy woven throughout. Ultimately, in my compare/contrast of Davis with Carré, I find Davis’s book is the more consistent overall, though even the best of her stories (“In Our Eden,” “The Emotion Room,” and “No Tears, No Sorrow”) don't match up to Carré’s mini-masterpieces “The Carnival” and “The Thing about Madeline.” Compare and contrasting aside–something I like doing strictly as an aesthetic exercise–both books are recommended without hesitation, because bottom line, both women are very talented, wonderfully creative cartoonists, storytellers, and animators. And that ain't no fantasy.PS: My full review of Heads or Tails for The Comics Journal is here: http://www.tcj.com/reviews/heads-or-t...
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  • Michael Emond
    January 1, 1970
    How to be happy? For me? Avoid reading books like this in my future. Look - this book was loved by a lot of people but it is clearly not meant for me. For someone who likes coherent stories..I don't know if I could call any of these brief cartoons stories because they don't seem to have a start and they definitely have no true end. Or point. They really don't have any point. I don't get how someone can just end the stories the way she does. One that stood out as being insanely pointless was one How to be happy? For me? Avoid reading books like this in my future. Look - this book was loved by a lot of people but it is clearly not meant for me. For someone who likes coherent stories..I don't know if I could call any of these brief cartoons stories because they don't seem to have a start and they definitely have no true end. Or point. They really don't have any point. I don't get how someone can just end the stories the way she does. One that stood out as being insanely pointless was one about two boys...they go exploring...they find an abandoned house...they get scared of by a noise...flash forward and they are reading in a bedroom and one of them starts a pillow fight the other one almost chokes the first boy and we end with the boy saying it was accident and the other boy gasping for breath. I'm not saying these aren't real stories taken from her life - I'm just saying Why did she feel the need to put them in a book? Why did someone publish the book? And I am curious why some people think these are the best stories ever. The art? It is fine but not an aesthetic that is pleasing to me. So the bottom line is - some people love this book and it makes them happy. I found no joy in it and saw no evidence of story telling of any kind.
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  • Ran
    January 1, 1970
    "The mind is a terrible place to live." I don't think I'm entirely sure what to make of this work. I am attracted to the idea of graphic short stories. But it wasn't until "Stick and Stone" that I was actually interested in Davis's work. In this short story, a guitarist/string instrument dude entices a wild woman to his bed with music. And I mostly engaged with that story largely because it does not contain any words until the guitarist starts naming objects in the house to the wild woman. And t "The mind is a terrible place to live." I don't think I'm entirely sure what to make of this work. I am attracted to the idea of graphic short stories. But it wasn't until "Stick and Stone" that I was actually interested in Davis's work. In this short story, a guitarist/string instrument dude entices a wild woman to his bed with music. And I mostly engaged with that story largely because it does not contain any words until the guitarist starts naming objects in the house to the wild woman. And then, man, what the hell is in those sacks? Rabbits? In "Seven Sacks," a ferryman paddles five increasingly Miyazaki-esque creatures with ominously squirming sacks across the river. In the distance, a cloud of billowing smoke rises into the skyline. All of the passengers pay the ferryman, but he is left wondering if "rabbits" were really in those sacks like the second bird-like passenger said. And basically the skinning the fox story made me a little teary. There's something grotesque about the entire book, even haunting.
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  • Raina
    January 1, 1970
    I didn't dig this art at first - it took an excerpt (Nita Goes Home) showing up in one of those Best American Comics books for me to put it on hold at the library. But Nita Goes Home was poignant and lovely, and unexpected. It told a story about what it's like to be a normal in a futuristic scenario. And there are definitely pieces in here that I liked more than others. But the thing I took away the most, was that each story became MORE when you applied the title of the book to it. When you thin I didn't dig this art at first - it took an excerpt (Nita Goes Home) showing up in one of those Best American Comics books for me to put it on hold at the library. But Nita Goes Home was poignant and lovely, and unexpected. It told a story about what it's like to be a normal in a futuristic scenario. And there are definitely pieces in here that I liked more than others. But the thing I took away the most, was that each story became MORE when you applied the title of the book to it. When you think about each story as a different way "To Be Happy." This book is more than the sum of its parts.The art style varies enough that I suspect it's a collection of work from a range of years - and I really like that the approach seems to be finding a theme in your own work and collecting appropriate pieces which fit that theme. I like the intention and thought behind that.Thoughtful, but still very story-based. There is A Point. And I like that.
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  • Mary
    January 1, 1970
    How to be Happy was an unexpected find I picked up at my library. I devoured it. Eleanor Davis shows a wide range of illustration styles that are all gorgeous and enviable in their own right. To top it off the stories are funny, touching, and everything. Everything! I'm just going to keep flipping through the pages to notice her color choices and then I'll go out and buy a copy for myself. I absolutely love this book and will be on the lookout for more of her work.
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  • Elizabeth A
    January 1, 1970
    This is a collection of short stories/vignettes on the pursuit of happiness. I liked the sketchy art, and the bold watercolors, but the rave reviews this book gets simply stumps me. Yes, each story explores a different take on what happiness means, and how one pursues it, and there were one or two that seemed to be right on the money, but overall I was left unimpressed.
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  • Will Walton
    January 1, 1970
    Also, THIS! This is another favorite thing! Read these stories slowly. Or read them fast and then read them again. Or read them slowly and read them again. In fact, maybe just never stop reading these stories. Maybe just plan on perpetually reading and re-reading this book (in small doses or in large gulps, whatever) to some degree for the rest of your life. It's what I'm planning on.
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  • Emilia P
    January 1, 1970
    OOF I am critical. It's just like... dude, it's not such a big deal to be able to make lovely little watercolor pictures. The stories have some nice stuff but there isn't much meat or teeth to them -- I feel like I've read plenty of pretty feelingsy stuff with that bites a lot harder and more lastingly than this. So, lovely, but just fine.
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  • Patrick
    January 1, 1970
    Cover of book is beautiful.Art and stories are not.The person who made this book[?] doesn't take the art of writing seriously.And doesn't take the subject of visual art seriously.Spiritually empty writing [sorry, they're not stories].Amateurish art [think Jr. High].Sound good? Only $25.00!What's not to like?A real struggle to get through.
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  • Mark
    January 1, 1970
    A series of vignettes that leaves the reader to decipher meaning. The artwork is not very sophisticated, but conveys the mood well enough. I did like some of the stories better than others, though it's place on the N.Y. Times Bestseller List may be the biggest mystery of all.
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  • Andrew
    January 1, 1970
    Imaginative watercolors and line-work. Stories that explore depression and self-improvement with grace, humor, and curiosity. Not every story worked for me, but the ones that did will stick with me for a long time.
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