Guys, Elyssa East–author of DOGTOWN: Death and Enchantment in a New England Ghost Town, out on paperback today!!–is the REAL DEAL.  I definitely wouldn’t cross her on the whole bets/risks/dares front, because she will mop the floor with you.  She will see your little public risk and raise you a pirate ship, and then she will videotape it all for your blog just so that everyone knows who’s boss in this whole scenario.  Let’s just pray she doesn’t doubledogdare us to do something back.  We’d be so screwed.

Watch the video below to see Elyssa with “A Surly Gloucester Crew,” and don’t forget to celebrate Dogtown’s paperback release by buying a copy today!
A Surly Gloucester Crew from Zarathustra Jones on Vimeo.


GUEST POST: Michelle Wildgen

I’m always thrilled to release a new GUEST POST into the world, because really, there’s nothing like getting a peek into your favorite author’s brain.  I’m especially excited to unveil to you the post by Michelle Wildgen –author of But Not for Long (just released in paperback!), You’re Not You and executive editor of Tinhouse magazine– because I’m pretty sure she defined a new go-to term in her post: “Literary Xanax.”  She may not have coined the phrase, exactly (I’m a good fact-checker so I googled, of course), but it’s the most apt usage of the term yet, and also reiterates the very valuable point that “light” writing need not be (and often isn’t) “fluffy” writing (I’d say ‘light’ is to ‘fluffy’ what xanax is to holding-your-breath-until-you-pass-out). Continue reading “GUEST POST: Michelle Wildgen”


GUEST POST: Megan Abbot Interviews Jack Pendarvis

There are two things for which I have a great deal of appreciation: (1.) People doing my job for me and (2.) Jack Pendarvis’ ability to title his books.  Here, if you are unfamiliar with either of those things, I’ll let you in on my pleasure, like in Sleepers when they pass around that little glowy drug ball.  Jack Pendarvis’ book titles: AWESOMEYOUR BODY IS CHANGING, and THE MYSTERIOUS SECRET OF THE VALUABLE TREASURE.  My job being done for me: Jack Pendarvis gets the wonderful Megan Abbot to interview him, then transcribes the interview himself and sends it to me.  Pretty sweet deal.

You probably know Jack from one of his excellent book titles, or maybe his Believer column Musin’s and Thinkin’s, or perhaps from his presence at the Oxford American, or maybe just from his own blog?  If you’re like, his sister?  As for Megan, I think Jack summed her up best when he said, “She is sweet and petite and polite and writes jawdroppingly brutal hardboiled violence,” but I will also add that she’s the Edgar-winning author of Die a Little, The Song Is You, Queenpin, and the non-fiction title The Street Was Mine: White Masculinity in Hardboiled Fiction and Film Noir.
Continue after the jump for the interview; but first, watch as I rip off the Believer intro index to give you a taste of what’s discussed– Continue reading “GUEST POST: Megan Abbot Interviews Jack Pendarvis”


Just when you thought Happy Ending wasn’t giving you your favorite writers for a whole ‘nother month, we come backatchya with another GUEST COLUMN entry in Robin Black’s comics-from-the-road series.  This blog has already seen me gush about Robin–author of the short-story collection, If I Loved You I Would Tell You Thisin her last GC entry, so this time I’ll let her wonderfully self-deprecating drawings to the talking.

As always, click to enlarge!


I adore Robin Black. I adore her because she’s an amazing writer with a wonderful book of short stories out this year–If I Loved You I Would Tell You This (with a beautiful cover to boot!), because she has a great blog that makes me wish I’d had the chance to study with her, because she’s worried that by  contributing this delightful series of true-life comics to the Happy Ending Blog, readers will think that she thinks she’s an ARTISTE (zeroing in on that universal modest-writer-fear that the simple act of creating requires too much ego to bear), rather than recognize that she’s a skilled writer having fun telling a story with a different medium (she is!  And we love it!), and I adore her because, well, probably because I’ll always feel a slight romantic-collegiate kinship with other Sarah Lawrence girls.
But mostly it’s the amazing writer part, and the fact that she produced–special for their HERS Blog–this series of original comics about the small pleasures and larger embarrassments that come with releasing your book into the hands of interviewers, critics, and Q&A audiences, and facing all three on tour.  Here now, the first of the series, which I believe addresses the latter of those three…
as always, click to enlarge!

GUEST BLOGGER: Brett Fletcher Lauer

I’m feeling really lucky for both of us right now. Lucky for me because after taking a little break from blogging to bounce to Italy (photos of international bidets to come) I get to come backatchya with a wonderful guest blog post from Brett Fletcher Lauer, whose poems you can read here, here and here, and whose new Missed Connections-themed site, Ships That Pass, you should check out immediately. And boy do I feel lucky for you, because now you get to read Brett’s excellent, knowing account of his own initial foray into the world of internet relationships, continued after the jump. Continue reading “GUEST BLOGGER: Brett Fletcher Lauer”



Today, a very special guest post from Happy Ending favorite Ben Arthur, whose novels and albums you can find here, and who generously opted to give us an intimate look at what it means to build a song in tune with his forthcoming novel, If You Look for My Heart. For a bit more on Ben and his current project, check out this interview on Ear to Ear.


When Amanda asked me to submit something for the blog here, she said she’d be happy with whatever I gave her. Which is kind of scary. Like a small child, I secretly prefer limits.

But thinking about you, dear readers, sweating it out in the literary trenches—writing, editing, rewriting—it occurred to me that you might be interested in a peek at the analogous process in music.

Desolate is a song from my upcoming concept album/novel, IF YOU LOOK FOR MY HEART. Some songs on the album are narrative, reflecting themes or plot lines from the novel; Desolate is one of the “artifact” songs that appear directly in the story.

When I sat down to write it, I knew I wanted one of the characters in the book hear the song performed live on the radio in the small town where the story is set, and I knew I wanted it to be about a woman sleeping with a married man. Essentially, about her. I imagined some local singer-songwriter performing it on the morning show, I thought it should be compelling…but also kind of suck.

At least I got one thing right.

The problem was that not only did it suck, but I was now faced with the unenviable task of getting some hapless musician friend to sing a sucky song. Which seemed unfair.

So I tried again. I kept some of the imagery, but changed the chord structure, added a bridge and switched from 4/4 to a waltz. (I also sang in a weirdly affected not-how-I-usually-phrase way. Heaven knows why.)

With a less sucky song under my belt, I was able to talk my friend Rachael Yamagata into doing the lead vocal, so I drove up to her place outside Woodstock and recorded her singing over the same guitar from the last recording. But because Rachael’s voice sat best a little lower than where I originally sang the song, we recorded her singing a harmony to me and then discarded my melody part. (Which is the single similarity to Prince’s 1999.)

With Rachael anchoring the song, we went to Dubway Studios and recorded the drums and bass in their beautiful live room. Tony Leone and Byron Isaacs of the band Ollabelle did us the honor. I also re-recorded some of my harmony parts, retaining some of the off-time phrasing, which ended up sounding interesting alongside Rachael’s parts. Then we laid down the strings, snipped out some of the extraneous vocals, and added some compression and reverb.