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Book of the Week: Happiness Is a Chemical in the Brain
Happiness Is a Chemical in the Brain
By Lucia Perillo
"Don't tell me about bad boys," writes Lucia Perillo. "I've seen my black clouds come and go." What she's also seen are some pretty dark-minded women—from a solitary mother addicted to cough syrup to a mistreated housewife who dreams of armed robbery. In the hands of a less-talented writer, these characters would turn out hard-boiled and, worse, hard to love. Instead, Perillo infuses each one with joy and humor, celebrating the best intentions behind the worst choices. The stunner of the collection is "Big-Dot Day," in which a mother and her young son, Arnie, set off from Las Vegas to the Washington coast, following yet another "new guy," who has plans to work a salmon boat. Left alone in the motel room, Arnie hatches a plan to go fishing—and what he catches (hint: it's not a fish) turns out to be both amazing and hilarious yet so quietly indicative of this boy's loneliness that you have to sit for a while, contemplating how it is that we all survive growing up. Relentlessly compassionate, this is a collection for the mistake makers and trying-as-hard-as-we-canners of the world—which probably means all of us.
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