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HALF AS HAPPY: STORIES ~Gregory Spatz


HALF AS HAPPY: STORIES  is just about that, you know those moments in life when you could feel contented and happy and you just cannot let go of something that worries or concerns you and accept the full feeling mode.  Eight intense stories of how folks assume they should feel or how they place “old stories” upon themselves and cannot release them to fully partake of the present tense.

This book came to me as a “squeeze in” and I did not have the time to read it twice.  I had to make every page count.   I do so enjoy a short story and just capturing that moment in a character’s living which needs to tell a whole story and be complete.   THE BOWMAKER’S CATS  just left me feeling like I was breathing the gypsy air of mystery and music, that is so apart of my expectation and one often does not think co-exists in the current time zone.  The twists of a short story meshed with a traditional irony and how easily the reader “sees” and the character needs assistance and contemplation to figure it out.

The mothers and fathers of these folks do not fare well under Spatz words.  Then we are a society which blames with ease and then holds on to something as the answer; often loath to question.  His words expose a countryside which is harsher and not so readily fogged in or misty and as a result his descriptions mark the intense feelings that are being held inside and go unrevealed.

Half As Happy: Stories startled my imagination into high gear.  It made me wish I was the Counselor assigned to the characters to assist with finding relief and moving forward with their lives.  I dove deep into my feelings over the daughters killed by drunk drivers.   I have little patience myself with folks who think gambling is the way to find happy, especially when they are cruising through some of the greatest landscape in the known world,  but then what do I know?  An identical twin trying to be “his own self”, and not being able to understand that their biology already made them separate; unique and reoccurring theme.

I like to keep a collection of short stories with me at all times.  I am sure I will read this collection again in the next few months.   This is very masculine thinking exposed with an intensity that feels very much like a sporting contest.  The segments about music and instruments allowed an opening for breathing and exhaling. The writing is excellent.  You are going to like Half As Happy: Stories

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I am so happy that TLC book tours asked me to be on this tour and that I can offer a giveaway from Engine Books, publishers.  I would have missed a delightful read if left to my own devises on this one, because It was not apparent that this was about Eastern Washington State and written by a local author/ writing professor.

Gregory Spatz Page

If you purchase anything from Amazon or Powell’s from this site, I will receive a few beans in my bucket.  Thank you.  Donations also welcomed.

Related Reading you might enjoy:
The Art of Racing in the Rain
The Highest Tide
Poser
The Love Ceiling 

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15 Responses to “HALF AS HAPPY: STORIES ~Gregory Spatz”

  1. Talon Says:

    Patricia, it sounds like a really interesting read. I’ll have to check it out. I like having short stories at hand, too. Some days that’s all the time I have to read and at least with a short story you can do it justice in a small amount of time!

    My computer crashed this morning…it is now officially dead…so had to get a new one…still getting things on this new machine the way I like them and discovering I had a lot of stuff on my old one that I probably didn’t to keep on there! :)

    Patricia Reply:

    Talon,
    An intense read, but good and worth picking up again.

    I had to use my new computer money to fix the garage door that came crashing down….I did manage to squeeze out a remote storage drive and I think that is like duct tape for my information right now…My old computer is barely hanging on…I know this feeling so intimately…whew!

    I have had 2 computers crash on me – I did find a company something River which I paid to retrieve all the financial information off the 1st computer which caved in…that was expensive. I think the office now uses a paid “cloud” system for storage.

    I wish you well…on the repair…and transition

  2. Laurie Buchanan Says:

    THE BOWMAKER’S CATS — the title of this story, alone, makes me want to read it! Like you, I enjoy keeping short stories on hand and this book, HALF AS HAPPY: STORIES, sounds like just the ticket. Thank you.

    Patricia Reply:

    Laurie,
    I have several in my list for review, these good short stories. When one does not subscribe to magazines they become a dietary hard to find item…always searching the blogs. But some remarkable stories…

    The titles of these stories are very interesting. And the author give credit where credit is due!

  3. Alien Ghost Says:

    Hi Patricia,

    A good book of short stories seem to be the perfect way to squeeze a reading at any moment without having to leave something for later; which I hate because then I spend the rest of the day thinking about how the story will go and cannot concentrate in other things. LOL

    Raul
    Alien Ghost recently posted..Aspie World 5 – Life Change at FiftyMy Profile

  4. suZen Says:

    Hi Patricia,
    I’m trying to settle down and get back in the groove reading blogs again. THIS – of course – made my day! I love having a book of shorts to dip in when time allows, which these days isn’t much time, but it’s coming!

    The one reason I’m not in full gear with everything is our weather! We haven’t had spring yet and everyone here is suffering from crabby weather and impatience. They may have to cancel the big fishing open on May 4 because our lakes are still frozen. I have 4 ft. mounds of snow in my yard yet and altho we get rain in lieu of snow, at least during the day, I woke up to white stuff yet AGAIN this morning. All this has kept me indoors and organizing in my new home but clearly I’ve had about all of that I can take for now!
    Next winter is Florida for sure! haha

    Hugs
    SuZen
    suZen recently posted..Calm Down!My Profile

  5. Sara Says:

    I’m not sure about this book for me. Like you, I think I would want to find a way to fix things for the characters.

    On the other hand, your review was very thorough and fair in your assessment. I loved your words:

    “His words expose a countryside which is harsher and not so readily fogged in or misty and as a result his descriptions mark the intense feelings that are being held inside and go unrevealed.”

    From what you said about this book, these words summarize it very well:~)
    Sara recently posted..Write on Edge Fiction : The Flawless OneMy Profile

    Patricia Reply:

    Sara,
    The writing is so worthwhile on this book – the author is a Professor in the MFA program at a local University – incredible words.
    I think they inspired my word choice in the review.

    It is nice to read about males exploring their inner worlds and attempting to figure things out….too

    I think it is a bit like the piano teacher needing to take a piano lesson or two along the way = makes one a better teacher? Maybe this is what writing does too?

    I have more reviews coming up. I think the next two books may excite your reading mind more :)

    Greg Spatz Reply:

    Sara (and Patricia),

    I probably shouldn’t do it, but I can’t resist throwing in my two cents on this exchange:

    Short stories (and fiction, generally) need conflict and trouble. A writer’s job is to get his/her character into trouble…without that, there’s no story. So while in life we go around mostly looking to stay out of trouble and to find solutions for our problems, trying to learn from our mistakes in order to get in less and less trouble, in stories we’re doing the opposite. As writers, that is. We’re looking for interesting trouble for our characters all the time. To paraphrase Nabokov: we want to get our characters up a tree and then throw rocks at them.

    This isn’t done so characters can serve as an example or a role model or a punching bag or ever be redeemed, it’s so that they and their troubles can shine a light on ALL of our fallibilities — theirs, mine, yours — in the hopes that something can be revealed (but not solved, not ever fixed or solved) about the human condition in the process.

    This is the story for literary fiction, anyway. Literary fiction wants to shine a light on the problematic human condition/soul and to offer no solution (because solutions are never sufficient) — by getting its characters in all kinds of great trouble. Think of the grandmother in Flannery O’Connor’s “A Good Man is Hard to Find,” who can only begin to be redeemed in the final seconds of her life, by having a hooligan hold a gun to her head and then shoot her. This is one of the best short stories ever written.

    Escapist fiction is a different story. Escapist fiction still needs trouble and drama in order to exist, in order to have a story to tell, but the trouble tends to look more theatrical and grand, and generally ends well with happy recognizable solutions. You will escape into it…and not be challenged.

    That’s my two cents! More like a dime!

    Enjoy the weekend.

    patricia Reply:

    Greg,
    What a fabulous 2 cents worth – I am glad you did.
    I think I must be living out a short story – up the tree and rocks being hurled.

    I emailed Sara to get her to come back and read your comment. She and Talon post some amazing short,short stories and poetry each week…
    Lot of very good writers comment here, I think they will all appreciate your good cents

  6. Heather J. @ TLC Book Tours Says:

    “startled my imagination into high gear” – I love your choice of words! It sounds like this collection was one to really make you think.

    Thanks for being a part of the tour.

    patricia Reply:

    Heather J. Thanks for sending these good reads my way. I love to read!

  7. Sara Says:

    Greg (and Patricia, our host),

    I appreciated your comment very much and you make some excellent points. I agree good stories should have tension and conflict. Their characters should be challenged and have to find ways to deal with those challenges.

    However, if I understand your comment correctly, I have to disagree with some of what you said. To me, one kind of fiction isn’t better than another.

    Therefore, I don’t think it’s fair to say all “escapist fiction” isn’t challenging anymore than it is to say all “literary fiction” requires someone “up a tree with rocks being thrown at them.”

    They are simply different approaches to storytelling. I also don’t believe a fiction story deserves less recognition as good literary fiction simply because it has a happy ending to it.

    The lovely thing about writing is there’s room for many different beliefs about what is considered good literary fiction. We will constantly revise our opinions on this topic, but ultimately it’s up to reader to find what he or she enjoys.

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts on my comment. I wish you great success with your book:~)
    Sara recently posted..Wordless Wednesday: Jail BreakMy Profile

    patricia Reply:

    Sara,
    thank you for continuing the conversation – What fun!

    Greg Spatz Reply:

    Sara,

    Indeed, a great conversation!

    But I think I must have come across as saying something I didn’t quite intend to say.

    I LOVE happy endings to stories, and don’t think a happy or sad ending has any bearing on how I’d judge or categorize the fiction I read — literary or escapist. One of my favorite stories of all time is one by Haruki Murakami called “Honeypie,” because it ends with such a big, genuine lift.

    I also don’t mean to say that any kind of fiction is “better” than any other kind. Only that different brands of fiction do different things. Literary fiction tends to challenge our beliefs, presumptions and intellects; escapist fiction gives us an escape (often much needed) and relief from the real world. Literary fiction can of course also be entertaining and fun and an escape from the world…it just also has this other job of needing to show us the truth. If it can do all those things at once, bravo.

    Hope that helps!

    Greg