Happy Always by John FraserHappy Always by John Fraser

Happy Always

byJohn Fraser

Hardcover | October 1, 2016

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John Fraser's latest work of speculative fiction, Happy Always concerns two journeys. In Here and Back Again, the young narrator escapes from his isolated village, lives poor in Paris, is involved in marginal schemes which bring him close to a police unit. The unit is disgraced – through his fault – and he turns to new friends – one, a musician, promotes avant garde mass concerts in Africa, another sends him to a remote part of Russia. Here, he is to supervise an imported jungle installation. He tries, and fails, in an attempt to trek back to humanity’s origins in Africa, returns to Paris, working in a team of rickety mountebanks in the Métro.

In Happy, a young drifter serves as chauffeur to a wealthy boss, who is killed in a botched robbery, leaving the narrator independent – teaching English and living by expedients among market traders. The latter go their separate, fatal ways. After some vicissitudes, he follows the pursuit of happiness, his outstanding quality, and takes a voyage on a pleasure boat. Its lady captain becomes his lover, but passes on to him a fatal illness. He remains happy.

The questions raised give substance to these extravagant tales. The epigraph asks: what is human culture? Does it change through time, or is it always rooted in our species, the animal within? Do individuals begin in personal circumstance, or are they bound to a quest for species consciousness? Does culture lead, or follow, and does humanity possess a set of rules, or laws? How do we recognise our animality, in relation to other animals, and how do we treat and see them? When we die – what do we leave behind? In the end the quest seems circular.

Title:Happy AlwaysFormat:HardcoverDimensions:222 pages, 8.5 × 5.5 × 0.63 inPublished:October 1, 2016Publisher:Aesop PublicationsLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:1910301310

ISBN - 13:9781910301319

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"One of the most extraordinary publishing events of the past few years has been the rapid, indeed insistent, appearance of the novels of John Fraser. There are few parallels in literary history to this almost simultaneous and largely belated appearance of a mature ouvre, sprung like Athena from Zeus's forehead; and the novels in themselves are extraordinary. I can think of nothing much like them in fiction. Fraser maintains a masterfully ironic distance from the extreme conditions in which his characters find themselves. There are strikingly beautiful descriptions, veiled allusions to rooted traditions, unlikely events half-glimpsed, abrupted narratives, surreal but somehow apposite social customs. Fraser's work is conceived on a heroic scale in terms both of its ideas and its situational metaphors. If he were to be filmed, it would need the combined talents of a Bunuel, a Gilliam, a Cameron. Like Thomas Pynchon, whom in some ways he resembles, Fraser is a deep and serious fantasist, wildly inventive. The reader rides as on a switchback or luge of impetuous attention, with effects flashing by at virtuoso speeds. The characters seem to be unwitting agents of chaos, however much wise reflection the author bestows upon them. They move with shrugging self-assurance through circumstances as richly-detailed and as without reliable compass-points as a Chinese scroll."I am convinced that he is the most original novelist of our time. His work has become an internal dialogue of intuitions and counter-intuitions that just happens to take the form of conversations between his inscrutable characters. But really it is a rich texture of poetic perceptions, frequently reaching for the aphoristic, but rooted in sidelong debate and weird analogies. When I return to his books it is like finding the rare fruit spirit in the drinks cupboard and realising that it wasn't just for special occasions, but is at all times superior to Pilsener or Merlot. I now class him as a latter-day surrealist. The things I like about his work are always rooted in wit. And of course the pure invention." (John Fuller, poet, novelist, Whitbread Award winner and Booker Prize nominee)