Review: I Don’t Have a Happy Place: Cheerful Stories of Despondency and Gloom

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ARC for review. Purchase I Don’t Have a Happy Place: Cheerful Stories of Despondency and Gloom on [Amazon] and [B&N]

ARC from NetGalley:

“I Don’t Have a Happy Place” is one of those books you get, not really knowing what you’re in for. The book’s content is directly in its title: “Cheerful Stories of Despondency and Gloom,” and yet that doesn’t really prepare you for what you get: darkly funny, sometimes morbid, sometimes sad, tales of life. Kim Korson’s voice is dry and matter-of-fact, and that alone makes some of the more out-there lines hilarious (one of my favorites comes from ‘Be Careful Out There’ – “If a bad guy were to come all the way up 128 stairs to disembowel me, it would be because he was looking for me specifically”).

Perhaps I enjoyed “I Don’t Have a Happy Place” so much because I do have a dark sense of humor, in addition to suffering from depression, so there were many events and lines of the book which had me chuckling or outright laughing.

I admit I knew nothing of Kim Korson when I first requested the book- it was in fact the title which caught my eye. However, after reading  “I Don’t Have a Happy Place…” I will definitely be looking out for more of Korson’s work in the future. Her voice is a refreshing dip into murky waters, and I mean that in the best possible way!

Thank you to Gallery Books and NetGalley for giving me the opportunity to review.

Originally posted on GoodReads.


For this prompt:

She learned to ignore them at an early age. Disregarded them when they flitted in at the corner of her eye, ignored the whispers at her ear, learned not to stiffen when the cool air hit the back of her neck. It was all training exercises, really. Filter out all of the things which made her hair stand on end, nervous electricity prickling on her soles, readying her to take off like a deer after hearing that faraway gunshot.

Self-medicating happened from ages fourteen through twenty. Alcohol, pot, coke, pills, sex. It took an embarrassingly long time to realize the drugs just made them appear more frequently and sometimes worse than when she was sober. Sex helped until she opened her eyes. There was no rehab, no hospital, she just stopped all of the above. The last thing she needed was to be locked away, any sort of constriction would be open season for them.

And so she took up running with headphones on, music blasting to stop the hissing. When she ran fast enough, she could disregard the dark blurs as she dashed past. Eventually, they learned how to force static in. They didn’t like being ignored.

Sometimes they leave scratches on her doors

She got a boyfriend, an understanding guy, who didn’t push her when she flinched under his hand and learned to not whisper around her. He suggested a therapist and when she refused, didn’t push. When she turned on all the lights in the apartment and watched the windows, he never called her crazy, just quietly suggested they go to bed or eat dinner and maybe in the morning, they could go see Doctor Morris. It was different, having someone who didn’t understand but was willing to try. When it was time, she found him hanging and of course the police would say suicide but it’s impossible to hang yourself with your arms broken, wasn’t it?

She ran from the apartment without calling 911, she was sure her wailing alerted their neighbors anyway. The streets were glistening from the rain, the water blurring her vision and making the traffic and car and street lights bounce and whirl and dance in her speeding vision. When she turned around the corner to toward the park, she stumbled as she stopped in her tracks, seeing them standing there, waiting, because it was her time.

They stood there, black shadows, their eyes, where their eyes would be, glowing, glowing, glowing red.

She didn’t feel terror, just dread, because this wasn’t going to be quick and when the shuddering gasp escaped her, they smiled, glowing…glowing…glowing…red.


For this prompt:

The walk home is a short one. A well-traveled one.

Get off the train, cross the street. Walk two blocks down, make a right. Cross the street, cross the park. Walk by the trees and beautifully-lit lake and stray dog. Emerge from the park back into the city. Walk down another block, turn left. Another block and there’s the apartment. Up two flights and there’s home.

She feels odd one day, her head hurts, her vision blurs. After a migraine hits, she excuses herself from her desk, decides to go home, would apologize the next day.

It’s dark out, she thought it had been light inside, and she walks to the train and makes the usual ride.

Get off the train, cross the street. Walk two blocks down, make a right. Cross the street, cross the park. Walk by the trees and beautifully-lit lake and there’s no stray dog. Emerge from the park back into the city. Walk down another block, turn left. Another block and get off the train.

Cross the street. Walk two blocks down, make a right. Cross the street, cross the park. Walk by the trees and beautifully-lit lake, no stray dog. Emerge from the park back into the city. Walk down another block, turn left and get off the train.

Walk two blocks down, make a left. Cross the street, cross the park. Walk by the trees and lake. Emerge from the park back into the city. Walk down another block and get off the train.

Walk four blocks down, make a left. Cross the street, cross the park. Walk by the lake. Emerge from the park back into the city where there’s no more people now. Walk down the street and there’s the train.

A slow, anxious panic begins to prickle at her, but she keeps walking. Eventually, she will make it home.

Cross the street, cross the long, dark park. Walk by the freezing lake. Emerge from the park back into the city where there’s no more people now. Walk down the street and there’s the train.

Cross the long, dark park. Walk by the freezing lake. Drop purse on the ground. Emerge from the park back into the city where there’s no more people now. Walk down the street and take off coat and there’s the train.

Walk by the freezing lake. Drop purse on the ground. Emerge from the park back into the city where there’s no more people now. Remove shoes. Walk down the street and take off coat and there’s the train.

Walk by the freezing lake. There’s the train.