Title: You Are Having a Good Time: Stories
Author: Amie Barrodale
Genre: Short Story Collection
Page Count: 191
Publication Date: 2016
I have been working on this title since July. At only 191 pages, it’s not a long read by any means, but it is an odd book. I mean this in the kindest way possible to Amie and her short stories — but if I’m going to be completely honest, when I put this down I seriously thought, “What the hell did I just read?”
This collection was something a friend and I read together. She finished it in July and, clearly, I did not. She kindly did not ruin the plots of any stories but did mention that they were supposed to be interconnected in some way — even though she wasn’t really sure how. It was a very “Challenge Accepted” moment for me, so I decided to read every word very intentionally and I think I figured out how the stories could be connected.
Amie opens this anthology with an epigraph by Tibetan/Bhutanese lama, filmmaker, and writer, Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse Rinpoche that reads:
“There is no such thing as communication. There are only two things. There is a successful miscommunication, and unsuccessful miscommunication. And when you have unsuccessful miscommunication, you are having a good time.”– Rinpoche
The idea of unsuccessful miscommunication was at the front of my brain during every story. I quickly noticed each contained at least two characters that never truly understand each other, either figuratively or literally. Whether it was the husband and wife in “The Imp”, the therapist and patient in “Frank Advice for Fat Women”, or the sales associate and customer in “The Commission” there were very human, stark misunderstandings taking place.
Being able to use the same conflict concept in ten vastly different tales speaks greatly to Barrodale’s creativity and imagination, but the dark essence that runs through every page of this book goes a step too far for my taste. The endings were all unhinged and there’s a piece of me that needs at least a digestible finish — not necessarily a happy one, but at least something that makes sense. And most of these did not.
As a fellow writer, I tip my hat to Barrodale for being artful with her prose (maybe I’m too low-brow to truly appreciate what Amie is throwing down), but I can’t say I would seek out her work again.
If you’d like to judge this book for yourself, you can buy it here. Stay tuned for the florilegium inspired by this book and the announcement of my next review on December 11th.