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Are You Happy Now? [Kindle Edition]

Richard Babcock
3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)

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Book Description

John Lincoln is a book editor miserably ensconced at Pistakee, a dinky Chicago publisher. His overwhelming ambition is to flee the bland, over polite Midwest and land in New York—where, he imagines, he’ll work with real writers; brandish success at his skeptical, patrician East Coast parents; and experience again the glories of a city where, with “every block, every step,” he will find something interesting and exciting.

What he needs is a hot bestseller, and he finds his vehicle in Amy O’Malley, a recent University of Chicago grad who’s worked on the school’s famous sex survey. With Lincoln’s prodding and guidance, Amy writes a sex-filled novel that draws on her experience. Her book indeed opens doors for Lincoln—but not in the way he imagined. Meanwhile, a professor of happiness studies at a local college blackmails him into publishing his fantastically mundane poetry.

Reminiscent of Richard Russo’s Straight Man, Are You Happy Now? is a comic novel about the hard work of understanding what it is you want.

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Product Description

About the Author

Until stepping down in 2011, Richard Babcock was the longtime editor in chief of Chicago magazine. Before that, he spent more than a decade as a top editor at New York magazine. He is the author of the best-selling Kindle Singles stories "My Wife's Story" and "Ah, Rat." Are You Happy Now? is Babcock's third novel, after Martha Calhoun (1988) and Bow's Boy (2002). Raised in Woodstock, Illinois, Babcock graduated from Dartmouth College and the University of Michigan Law School. He lives in Chicago with his wife, Gioia Diliberto, an acclaimed biographer and novelist. He has taught at Northwestern's Medill School of Journalism, Knox College, and Loyola University of Chicago. In addition to writing and teaching, Babcock occupies himself in following the Chicago Cubs, a team he credits for a lifetime's schooling in the "nuances of failure and loss."

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 514 KB
  • Print Length: 319 pages
  • Publisher: Little A (6 Nov. 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B008L4KP20
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #188,189 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Easy if uninspiring read 23 July 2014
By Juan McGuinness VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I found this book to be very easy to read and flew through it in 2 sittings of a couple of hours each. The pages keep turning but I certainly didn't feel like I couldn't put it down.

It’s not going to challenge you in any way and at the end of it you will not feel particularly different or inspired or uplifted. I found it to be the ultimate example of a holiday or travel book, you can pick it up and relax with it.

The main character John Lincoln seems to have very few endearing qualities and is generally a failure, he doesn’t seem to learn much through the book and ends up just meekly accepting his life and decides to be happy with what he was miserable about in the first place. In fact in many ways he is in a worse position by the end of the book than he was at the start. Ultimately I wasn't investe4d in his story and at the end I couldn't care less what life altering decision he made. His interactions with other characters in the book don't feel natural and at no point do you feel any connection or warmth from the conversations.

Whilst a speedy and enjoyable read I did find myself a bit disappointed by the ending and general pacing of the book. Whilst the headline question of being happy is technically answered the questions that appear throughout the book are categorically left hanging. All in all it felt like the book was weaving a large number of currents and stories but was given 5 minutes to finish up and get out of the pool so knocked out a quick ending.

It's not the worst book I've ever read but I think if I had paid full price for it I'd have been left feeling disappointed.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Are You Happy Now..? 17 Jan. 2014
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Unhappiness and a lack of self fulfilment are pervasive in Lincoln's life. A privileged upbringing results in pressure from parents and peers on the importance of success, which he feels he has never achieved. His envy at others achievements and dissatisfaction with his own, is characterised by the slight of academic institutions that don't fit into the Ivy League, such as the much panned "U of C" in the novel, and his somewhat scathing attitude to the Midwestern style of life. Life always seems better in the East, so go seek New York where are the bright enticing lights of hope.

I didn't warm to Lincoln as a person. His striving for success equates in his mind, to achieving a state of happiness, and his lack of assertiveness makes him a passive mover in life, often kowtowing to others opinions or demands. This leads him to be somewhat of a user of man, as shown in his aim of getting work colleague and English graduate, Amy on board with his search for some personal kudos as an editor/writer. He comes across as a hapless character, with little spunk, wasting all his energy in reacting to others rather than being proactive for himself.

However, there is hope for this man, and by the end of the novel he seems to have sorted out some of his problems finding a newly found sense of happiness which has been elusive. The moral in the tale seems to be something along the lines of "be true to yourself" wherein lies the essence on inner contentment.

A recommended read.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Reasonably happy 21 Aug. 2013
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
"Alleys, thinks John Lincoln. At least Chicago has alleys." These are the opening lines, immediately catching you off-guard but in so doing drawing you in from the off.

John Lincoln is comparing Chicago to New York, the place he sees as his future. "He wants to attach himself to a great publishing house, edit profound writers, maybe even write a book or two himself. Bask in the pride of his parents. Wave those credentials in front of his rivals. Be somebody."

The reality though is that he is stuck in Chicago, 33-years-old, on a marriage vacation from Mary and is just a small-time editor at a small publishing house, Pistakee Press, on the road to nowhere. That is until he meets Amy who on first impressions resembles a "little ruffled grouse", but provides John with his ticket out of here. Will he finally be happy?

Overall I was reasonably happy with the book. Maybe the first-half with all of John's woe is me stuff got a little depressing in places, "Am I going to die in exile in Chicago?" he muses whilst he has the law on his back, his wife filing for divorce, plus a nagging feeling that his boss is soon to sack him. Woe is me indeed, but a book is about escapism so I didn't need that.

The second half of the book picks up though as John has something to focus on, namely Amy and her book. But in "blindly pursuing his ambition, he's corrupted an innocent." And so his idea of what would bring him happiness gets trodden on a little along the way, although by the end he realises once and for all what it is he needs to finally be happy giving a uplifting ending after all the doom and gloom before.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Left me neither happy or unhappy 12 Feb. 2015
By Mr. Robert Kelly VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
John Lincoln works as a senior editor at a small Mid West publishing company in Chicago. He isn't happy. His wife has left him, he feels pressure in his job and is suffering with an unfulfilled longing to move back to New York where he thinks the real publishing is happening. A young colleague enters his life with an idea for a book, the two together help take his life down a different path.
This book didn't make me happy or unhappy. It was OK to read, but I neither loved nor loathed it. The book is competently written in a style that's readable but disposable. There is one interesting plot twist where things look that they might be developing similarly to bonfire of the vanities, but ends up going in a different direction.
In the end I can only give the book 2 stars as despite the fact I made it to the end, there probably other ways I could have spent my time that would have made me happier.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars A story of a man growing up
I liked this novel. It's a straightforward story, basically of a man growing up, and having a mid thirties crisis of meaning and relationships. Read more
Published 2 days ago by Dr. Peter Davies
4.0 out of 5 stars Big City, Small Minds
The back compares the book to Richard Russo at his comic you can understand that I was expecting this to be a book which causes a smile or even laughter. Not so much. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Christian
1.0 out of 5 stars Mediocre writing and not interesting enough to keep me going
I wasn’t expecting a lot from it, but the story idea had some potential. It was very, very average. The writing never threatened to rise above ploddingly readable. Read more
Published 8 months ago by BS on parade
4.0 out of 5 stars Insert Smiley Face Emoticon
I wasn't expecting a great deal from this - perhaps having something to do with the horrible packaging of the proof copy I received - but I found myself quickly warming to this... Read more
Published 12 months ago by Bela Lugosi's Dad
4.0 out of 5 stars Happiness is a well-edited book.
Ambition is a curse as well as a blessing, as book editor John Lincoln comes to discover. Desperate to escape the perceived midwestern mediocrity of Chicago, where he feels his... Read more
Published 13 months ago by A. Chell
3.0 out of 5 stars Not particularly
This is a book about an editor stuck in a dead end publisher in Chicago looking for his big break to take him back to New York and editing for one of the big publishing houses. Read more
Published 13 months ago by Andrew Dalby
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
A very good read kept me guessing throughout
Published 14 months ago by Jill Rose
4.0 out of 5 stars Easy to read and enjoyable
I thought this book was going to be quite trashy, but it turned out to be surprisingly well written and often quite insightful. Read more
Published 15 months ago by Fiona
4.0 out of 5 stars Well, ARE you happy now? If not....................................
John Lincoln is a thirtysomething book editor miserably ensconced at Pistakee, a dinky Chicago publisher, where he toils on titles like 37 Rambles Through the Windy City. Read more
Published 17 months ago by Roger Sharp
3.0 out of 5 stars Questions how we’ll know when we’re happy
A book about the creation of books, the people who do it and what drives them, with particular reference to happiness or the lack of it. Read more
Published 17 months ago by G. Wake
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