My American Unhappiness
By Dean Bakopoulos
(Mariner Books, Paperback, 9780547549101, 277pp.)
Publication Date: July 3, 2012
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"Bakopoulos has invented a man for all rainy seasons--a horny, heartbroken cousin of Richard Ford's Frank Bascombe." --Tom Piazza
"A winning distraction, a smart entertainment." --"New York Times Book Review "
A clairvoyant when it comes to the Starbucks orders, a renegade when it comes to bureaucracy, Zeke asks almost everybody he meets, "Why are you so unhappy?" The answers he receives--a mix of true sadness and absurd complaint--become the core of an obsessive project, "The Inventory of American Unhappiness," a project that becomes all the more personally meaningful as he follows steps outlined in a women's magazine on finding the perfect mate. Incisively tapping the voice of one of the most charming--and deluded--narrators to come along in years, Dean Bakopolous captures our zeitgeist with lacerating wit and a big heart, confirming Jonathan Miles's (author of "Dear American Airlines") claim that "there's no such thing as unhappiness when you're holding a Dean Bakopolous novel."
"Hilarious and heartfelt . . . This funny-sad novel seems to take elements of the author's own life . . . and twists them in a funhouse mirror--with delightful results." --NPR.
- Zeke’s story, though universal in its sense of loss and loneliness, is woven tightly into the experience of midwestern Americans during the post-9/11 “Dubya” years. What kinds of cues does the author use to create a sense of time and place in the novel? Do you think it would have worked equally well set in another part of the country, or in another era?