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Why Are You So Sad?: A Novel

Why Are You So Sad?: A Novel

Written by Jason Porter

Narrated by Jason Porter


Why Are You So Sad?: A Novel

Written by Jason Porter

Narrated by Jason Porter

ratings:
3.5/5 (8 ratings)
Length:
4 hours
Released:
Jan 28, 2014
ISBN:
9781480566453
Format:
Audiobook

Description

"Like a well-stocked IKEA, Why Are You So Sad? Has everything you need for your home and your heart. Jason Porter has written an astute, intelligent, and hilarious book." -Gary Shteyngart, author of Super Sad True Love Story

Have we all sunken into a species-wide bout of clinical depression?

Porter's uproarious, intelligent debut centers on Raymond Champs, an illustrator of assembly manuals for a home furnishings corporation, who is charged with a huge task: to determine whether the world needs saving. It comes to him in the midst of a losing battle with insomnia-everybody he knows, and maybe everybody on the planet, is suffering from severe clinical depression. He's nearly certain something has gone wrong. A virus perhaps. It's in the water, or it's in the mosquitoes, or maybe in the ranch-flavored snack foods. And what if we are all too sad and dispirited to do anything about it? Obsessed as he becomes, Raymond composes an anonymous survey to submit to his unsuspecting coworkers-"Are you who you want to be?," "Do you believe in life after death?," "Is today better than yesterday?"-because what Raymond needs is data. He needs to know if it can be proven. It's a big responsibility. People might not believe him. People, like his wife and his boss, might think he is losing his mind. But only because they are also losing their minds.

Or are they?

Released:
Jan 28, 2014
ISBN:
9781480566453
Format:
Audiobook


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Reviews

What people think about Why Are You So Sad?

3.5
8 ratings / 12 Reviews
What did you think?
Rating: 0 out of 5 stars

Reader reviews

  • (2/5)
    A very short first-time novel about a man who is desperately fighting an increasing sense of the meaninglessness of life. He turns to other people in the form of an Emotional Questionnaire to see if it is just himself or if the human species is doomed as he fears.I find it hard to review books fairly where I did not like the ending, and in this case I have to say I REALLY did not like the final two chapters. Until then I was intrigued by the concepts if not always by the execution. If he had dropped the final two chapters and explored the world longer, I would have enjoyed this much more.
  • (3/5)
    I thought this started strong. it had some clever satire of corporate life and modern life in general and early on in managed to balance having a narrator who was sees the world as hopeless with other characters who question that point of view so that we can see the narrator's point, but aren't forced to agree with it. I was close to giving this four stars, but I thought it really fell apart at the end, particularly after the shift to part II of the book (multiple choice). I wold give Jason Porter another shot, and if the subject matter interests you, this might strike a chord, but it ultimately didn't live up to its promise.
  • (3/5)
    I started this months ago and every so often pick it up and read a little bit more, but I just can't get into it. I'm not even sure why, although it doesn't help that I find the main character kind of unlikable. It's not like it's a terrible book, but it just can't hold my attention -- despite being a pretty short book.
  • (4/5)
    This short little novel touches on some very large issues. Mr. Porter has something to say about the human condition today and what he says isn't very up beat. He does a great job of engaging the reader . It was easy to slip into the story, to engage in the character's thoughts and feelings. An author who is able to accomplish this deserves an audience. Why Are You So Sad was a quick read but not, I think so quickly forgotten. The premise of Jason Porter's novel is interesting and current. For this reason Why Are You So Sad will make for a great book group read. The novel contains so many timely topics for discussion.Are you happy ?What does it feel like to get out of bed in the morning ?Would you prefer to be someone else ?Are you for the chemical elimination of all things painful?Just a few of the questions put forth by, Ray, the young protagonist of this book. Not sure how many readers have pondered the questions presented in this book but I have and Mr. Porter's presentation of the discontent in today's society validates what many people may feel but can not express.This is not a happy book, a bit on the "sad" side but for readers who want to read something that will be though provoking, Why Are You So Sad, fits the bill. Originally I gave this book three and a half stars. The book left me unsettled, which may have influenced my decision to do this. After some reflection I went back and changed it to four stars. Mr. Porter wrote a book that makes an impact. I may be uncomfortable with that impact but his talent should be recognized for what it is, a real ability to engage the reader.
  • (3/5)
    A few years ago, I read a book called "Apathy and other small victories" - the book was laugh-out-loud funny, but I would feel a little horrible laughing at the things that were making me laugh....This book seemed similar to a point and I think it was a dark comedy, but the main character while starting off great, just became too uncomfortable for me to read more about as the book went on. So, as a short(er) story, I'd probably have enjoyed it more.
  • (5/5)
    Jason Porter gives us a successful novel about a most unlikely topic, working in an office cube. Few authors try to write about work because so often work is boring. This story of Ray, the protagonist, is definitely not boring. It is strangely upbeat.Ray is himself sad about his life. He decides to make a very personal questionnaire and foist it on his office mates. Things go wrong and then maybe go right, but on the way there is much entertainment in this short book. The inventive endings are multiple choice (this is about a questionnaire), which could either happen separately or together. Both are satisfying. A great read.
  • (3/5)
    Why Are You So Sad? by Jason Porter is a recommended satirical novel.

    In Why Are You So Sad? Raymond Champs is going through a hard time. He is a senior Pictographer at the North American Division of LokiLoki, an Ikea-like store. The novel opens with Raymond in bed, pondering whether we have "all sunken into a species wide bout of clinical depression?" He tries to ask his wife about it but as she is less than encouraging him along these lines of thinking, he decides that what he needs is "an emotional Geiger counter that could objectively measure other people for sadness." But how does an average corporate desk jockey come up with a way to measure sadness?

    Naturally, Raymond decides to write a questionnaire. He can have people at work take it under the auspices that it is from management. This would provide him with a random sampling of the data he needs to prove that we are all depressed. He knows that his co-workers are all compliant. "They do as they are told, like sheep waiting for paychecks. Corralled over to meetings that serve no purpose. Filling out forms they never hear about again. Sitting in on career development workshops with box lunches and guest speakers who had just flown in from the middle of the country. It was a natural fixture within the terrain, jumping through unnecessary hoops." And so he writes out his questions, many of them unconventional, sends the completed questionnaire to the copier and has 50 copies made.

    Immediately his coworkers start answering the questions he poses on the form and putting their completed forms in a basket marked for them by Raymond's cubicle. Questions include, in part:
    Are you single?
    Are you having an affair?
    Why are you so sad?
    When was the last time you felt happy?
    Are you who you want to be?
    Is Today worse than yesterday?
    If you were a day of the week, would you be Monday or Wednesday?
    and more....

    I did find the idea that a man might wonder if we are all as a species going through clinical depression intriguing. As Raymond's wife tries to talk him out of his mission, Raymond battles his depression by looking for answers and maybe empathy or camaraderie from others who feel the same way. (There is one scene in a movie rental store that had me thinking that it should have been re-written as an encounter in front of a Red Box because I don't even know of a store location anymore.) While Why Are You So Sad? is smart and funny, I might find it funnier if I worked in a cubicle for a large corporation.


    Disclosure: My Kindle edition was courtesy of The Penguin Group for review purposes.


  • (2/5)
    This story just never got going for me. The main character Raymond, is bored with his corporate job, and seriously depressed. But the the book is just not that funny.
  • (4/5)
    Ray is a senior pictographer at LokiLoki (Looky Looky?), which seems like an IKEA parody. He has become convinced that the rest of the world shares his growing sense of alienation, and composes a questionnaire to test this. He circulates it at work in the name of upper management, and eagerly reads the completed surveys that bewildered but obsequious employees send back to his cubicle. Some of the questions include "When was the last time you felt happy? Was it a true, pure happy or a relative happy? Why are you so sad? Are you who you want to be? Would you prefer to be someone else? If you were a day of the week, would you be Monday or Wednesday? Do you believe in God? Do you believe in life after death? Do you believe in life after God? Do you think we need more sports?As Ray circulates and collects these surveys, his wife and upper management come to sense that all is not quite well with him. Events at work proceed toward what seems an inevitable conclusion, and Ray returns home to finally read the sealed letter his wife has been asking him to read for the past two days. I keep seeing Ray as an alternate-universe version of Dilbert, and the sweet conclusion offers the possibility that even in the midst of ubiquitous angst and despair, goodness and light and love do exist and can come to the rescue, if you can just remember where you left them.
  • (3/5)
    This was a very quick read, but not really my cup of tea. Despite that, I was engaged enough to read the very short book pretty much in one sitting. The characters at the workplace and the woman at the end all seemed very unrealistic. The main character reminded me a little of Chance in "Being There". Although it was advertised as being a humorous novel, I found it somewhat depressing to read. I liked the letters at the end of the book, although I'm not crazy about books with alternative endings.
  • (3/5)
    Raymond Champs is seriously depressed. As a not-quite-young-anymore catalog illustrator for an IKEA-like furniture store chain, he spends his days promoting products for a company he doesn’t believe in and his nights at home with a wife from whom he has grown increasingly distant. Wondering whether everyone else in the world is suffering from the same malaise that grips him, he creates a survey that asks questions such as: “Are you who you want to be?”, “Is today worse than yesterday?”, and “Why are you so sad?” Ray’s decision to distribute the questionnaire to his co-workers leads to dramatic encounters and consequences—some unexpected and others that are entirely predictable—which in turn provide the context for understanding what is really wrong with him.Billed as “…an acutely perceptive and sharply funny meditation on what makes people tick”, Why Are You So Sad? is certainly not afraid tackle some of the big issues that define the dark side of the human experience, including depression, alienation, disaffection, and, quite possibly, mental illness. Unfortunately, despite the book’s clever premise, first-time author Jason Porter has crafted a tale that falls a bit short of achieving such lofty goals. Part of the problem is that its brief length did not permit much depth to the character development; only Ray seemed fully realized whereas most of his colleagues—as well as his wife Brenda—say and do things that seem wholly implausible, even for a work clearly intended as satire. Further, once you get past its inventive frame, much of subject matter addressed in this novel has been covered elsewhere in a more compelling way (e.g., Matthew Quick’s The Silver Linings Playbook).Although apparently not its primary intention, where Why Are You So Sad? did succeed for me was as a farcical look at modern business life. In fact, the scenes of the pompous behavior within the firm and mindless devotion to climbing the corporate ladder, as seen through Ray’s skewed and jaundiced perspective, are the only parts of the book that are truly insightful and even remotely funny. Indeed, I found the protagonist’s cynical take in this part of the story—which actually comprises about three-quarters of the book—compares favorably with other recent satires of the business world, such as Joshua Ferris’ Then We Came to the End. So, this novel does justify the modest demands it makes on the reader’s time, albeit for a different reason than the author may have had in mind.
  • (5/5)

    1 person found this helpful

    Why are you so sad? reminded me of the cult movie Office Space and of the great young adult novel The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime. It was a parody of the boredom and ennui of cubical office life told from the first person point of view of an unusual narrator. Should we trust him or not? Raymond Champs sets out to do a survey. He fears everyone has fallen into a giant hole of unhappiness and cannot get out. He does an unofficial survey of his co-workers to find out just how sad everyone is and hopefully to conceive of some way of helping them. But gradually we realize that the sadness is all his and his alone. Can he save himself from the horrors of depression and sadness.The questions and answers on the survey are hilarious. The internal monolog that Ray delivers to the reader is breathtaking and poignant, and the conceit of a sadness survey is clever and interesting. This is one of the few pieces of fiction I have read in the past few years that I can honestly say caught my attention and did not feel contrived. I cared what happened and how it happened. I read it quickly. So quickly that I will want to go back and read it again. There were lots of details that were easy to miss the first time around. Great book. Enjoyable read!

    1 person found this helpful