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Reviews of The Privilege of the Happy Ending by Kij Johnson

The Privilege of the Happy Ending

Small, Medium, and Large Stories

by Kij Johnson

The Privilege of the Happy Ending by Kij Johnson X
The Privilege of the Happy Ending by Kij Johnson
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • Published:
    Oct 2023, 304 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Jillian Bell
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About this Book

Book Summary

A surprising and exciting new collection of speculative and experimental stories that explore animal intelligences, gender, and the nature of stories.

The Privilege of the Happy Ending collects award-winning writer Kij Johnson's speculative fiction from the last decade. The stories explore gender, animals, and the nature of stories, and range in form from classically told tales to deeply experimental works. The collection includes the World Fantasy Award-winning "The Privilege of the Happy Ending" and "The Dream-Quest of Vellitt Boe," as well as two never-before published works.

Excerpt
The Privilege of the Happy Ending

This is a story that ends as all stories do eventually, in deaths.

When Ada's parents died in the winter of her sixth year, she was sent to the neighboring parish to live with her aunt, Margery. Margery was a widow with three daughters, all older than Ada; and their names were Cruelty, Spite, and Malice. They lived in a narrow cottage with a single room, and rain came in where the thatch had grown thin beside the falling-down chimney. Margery had a garden and a pig and some piglets, and three sheep, though one was old. There was also a coop full of hens with a single rooster. There was no room for an orphan in Margery's narrow cottage, nor in her narrow gray life, so Ada slept in the coop surrounded by the chickens: their feathers and fluff, their earthy smell, their soft nonsense gabbling—and of everyone in that household, Ada's food was scantest but her bed was softest.

Ada loved all the hens, but her favorite was Blanche, white...

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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

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The surreal horror story "The Ghastly Spectre of Toad Hall" features a Wind in the Willows-inspired cast of anthropomorphized creatures who live in homes, wear clothes and exchange Christmas gifts. The core characters of "Coyote Invents the Land of the Dead" are simultaneously women, animals and goddesses. "Noah's Raven" follows the story of Noah's ark from the perspective of a raven on board who takes a rather dim view of the Old Testament prophet. How would a raven feel about being trapped on Noah's ark? The reader is drawn into the unfamiliar through these characters, only to be hit with the universality of feelings like grief and loneliness...continued

Full Review Members Only (692 words)

(Reviewed by Jillian Bell).

Media Reviews

Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
Johnson plumbs great depths in her third short story collection, full of bittersweet tales of the fantastic...A strange and glimmering jewel for any genre fiction collection.

Library Journal (starred review)
[The] stories are original, engaging, and hard to put down... Johnson has a rare gift for pulling readers directly into the heart of a story and capturing their attention completely. Those who enjoy a touch of the other in their reading will love this collection.

Publishers Weekly (starred review)
Hugo and Nebula award winner Johnson (The River Bank) returns with 14 dazzling speculative shorts...Johnson's keen eye for the mysteries of human nature shines as her characters experience love, loss, growth, and betrayal, all made delightfully strange. These boundary-pushing, magic-infused tales are sure to wow.

Shelf Awareness
When she's at her best, the small emotional moments are as likely to linger in your memory as the fantastic imagery. Johnson would fit quite comfortably on a shelf with Karen Russell, Erin Morgenstern and others who hover in the simultaneous state of being both 'literary' and 'fantasy' writers

Reader Reviews

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Beyond the Book

Dream Interpretation

Joseph Interprets Pharoah's Dream, color painting by Nicolas Poussin depicting Joseph standing before the pharoah and pointing upwards One of the short stories in Kij Johnson's The Privilege of the Happy Ending lists whimsical interpretations of specific dreams. For instance, to dream about an Audi "signifies great strife and financial disaster. It is hard not to connect this to the fact that your ex left you for someone who owns an Audi."

But the interpretation of dreams is not and has not always been taken lightly. The practice dates back to ancient times and has been a topic of discussion and debate in psychological circles in more modern eras. Throughout the ages, various cultures have held their own particular beliefs about the significance of dreams.

Dream interpretation was performed in ancient Mesopotamian, Roman and Egyptian societies, among others, and ...

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