Shelf Life of Happiness

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I’m thrilled to share that my next book, Shelf Life of Happiness, will be published this October. The nine stories in this collection were written over a span of ten years and all deal with the way that happiness can get lost in the elusive desire for something more in life.

Though the stories aren’t autobiographical, they do steal situations and conundrums from my own life. I really did travel with my family to the ancient ruins of Rome and I may have seen a couple kissing there, but unlike the character in my story, Crying in Italian, I wasn’t interested in ending my marriage as a result. But in that story, I wanted the reader to feel the tension that comes from travel and the longing to be someone we aren’t—someone with a wilder, more passionate life, when as tourists, lugging our way through foreign lands on tired feet, we’re anything but.

In Redbone, the artist of that name has finally achieved success in his career and yet in his final moments, he sees that he’s sacrificed far too much to ever enjoy it. In my eponymous story, a newly married, young writer is afraid to admit to his own happiness, having spent so many years longing for a woman who he knows would be bad for him.

I, too, have spent far too much time longing for something—especially when I was younger: success or recognition or whatever I imagined might make for a richer life, one more fulfilling than my own. I was sure there was something that could make me happier, even though I also simultaneously knew that I was already happy.

Truth is, I’ve been happily married for thirty plus years and have two grown kids whom I adore, and various other reasons to know that all is well with me. I think that’s true in part because I’ve had fiction to explore the worlds that tug at me and attract me and make me want to turn my life upside down. The longing to disrupt, to go in search of that elusive “something more” has been satisfied through both reading and writing fiction.

Hopefully Shelf Life of Happiness will help readers assess their own happiness and be reminded that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side. We might just already have what we want.