Happiness Is a Chemical in the Brain by Lucia Perillo is a collection of stories - some just a few pages long - that packs a powerful, emotional punch. Small-town Northwesterners populate these stories, which all take place in an unnamed coastal town in Washington State. The characters have few prospects and are just trying to get from one day to the next while figuring it all out - life, love, why we do what we do.
Except for three stories that feature the same characters, the pieces in the collection are not really connected to each other. In that sense, this isn't quite a "novel in stories." But the setting and weighty themes work as unifying threads.
In 14 stories and a little more than 200 pages, Perillo covers a lot of ground. We meet a chronically ill woman who is sure her husband is cheating on her; a retired doctor in a retirement community plagued with suicides; ...
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