Books

In Stores Sept., 2011…

Happiness Economics (Heritage Group, Brindle & Glass; 2011)

A comic novel about a poet’s heroic struggle to create, in the face of cultural and domestic impediments.

Praise for Happiness Economics


“A wonderful tale of poets and their Muses, of social navigations and marriages adrift. Full of heart and deftly told.” – Will Ferguson

Happiness Economics hilariously pits poetry’s ineffable artistic charms against the hard numbers that rule our daily lives.” – Lynn Coady

“Shari Lapena’s book is a surprisingly joyful look at familial—and literary—wreckage.” – The Globe and Mail

Happiness Economics is about lofty ideas like the meaning and relevance of poetry, the validity of ‘the muse,’ the way we are raising our children, and capitalism itself. But at its heart it is a beautifully articulated treatise on long-term relationships and how they change as the people in them invariably do, over and over.” – The Globe and Mail

“I thought Happiness Economics was going to be this amazing “writers’ book” – a book that small groups of writers, huddled in the dark corners of bars and lounges across the planet – would talk about. They’d whisper about Lapeña’s ideas in hushed and reverent voices. There would be Happiness Economics cults… Now, this cult status still may happen – I don’t know. But this is a bigger book than just a writers’ book. It is a big rollicking, lusty book filled with characters who get in you and stay – I dare you to not love and care about these people. It’s a rewarding story, a beautifully unraveled journey. It’s as clever as hell and filled with massive heart. Happiness Economics is a Brava! performance by a writer to watch.” The Winnipeg Review

Happiness Economics is an enjoyable and thoughtful journey. It muses on the nature of art and commerce; love and romance; marriage and aging, not to mention parenthood: Lapeña looks at the big questions our culture burdens itself with and somehow transforms it all into a deliciously likable romp.” – January Magazine

“Definitely a book to put on the “poets in literature” list; I think it would be in great company with Nicholson Baker’s The Anthologist and Lynn Coady’s Mean Boy.” – The Indextrious Reader

Will Thorne is a slightly published, stalled poet, married to Judy, a successful celebrity economist who doesn’t understand him, or poetry, at all. Will’s struggles with his art aren’t appreciated by his wife—or by his poet peers, all of whom are living below the poverty line while he appears to be squandering his talent in ergonomic chairs and rich leather interiors. Society doesn’t appreciate him either, because society—which has such a great, unrecognized need to listen to its poets—instead hangs on the every word of people like his wife, whose books are bestsellers.
Pressured by his destitute Governor-General’s Award-winning poet acquaintance, Gord Mutic, Will starts a charitable organization, The Poets’ Preservation Society, to assist poets in financial need—Gord in particular. But in order to persuade his high-powered wife to get him the necessary funding, Will must make a devil’s bargain with her: he will write advertising slogans (a job she has found him), so that he can, in Judy’s words, contribute to society. Writing advertising slogans for toilet paper and spending his free time on the administrative work of The Poets’ Preservation Society, Will has neither the time nor the inspiration to finish his novel in poems, which he has been working on for close to ten years.
But then he discovers his muse…

Watch the Book Trailer for Happiness Economics.

Click here for a Reader’s Guide to Happiness Economics.

Read an excerpt from Happiness Economics.

Things Go Flying (Heritage Group, Brindle & Glass; 2008)

A hilarious and wildly inventive contemporary comedy about how the past can come back to haunt you. Literally.

book cover for Things Go Flying

Praise for Things Go Flying

“A wonderfully alive, funny and inventive novel” - David Adams Richards
“Shari Lapeña’s novel is wonderful high-purpose fun. The characters try to be unremarkable, but remarkable things keep happening to them. I enjoyed it tremendously.”- Paul Quarrington
“Things Go Flying is a delight to read: funny and tender and vibrant. The story rips along, told in vivid scenes that are masterfully paced. It’s all working in this novel: conflicted characters frustrated with each other, hope-mangled maybe, but still optimistic. It rings true in the most charming and most satisfying way. I gobbled it up.”- Eliza Clark

“enormously appealing…” Quill & Quire

“Lapeña’s touch is sure, her labours invisible…Family is strange. Lapeña taps into its mix of the familiar and the unfathomable, ramping up the human skirmishes with a guerilla foray into the question of evil…” The Globe and Mail

“a first novel worthy of attention…” The Vancouver Sun

“Hilarious, fast-paced and irreverent…a continual giggle…” Owen Sound Sun Times

“Shari Lapeña’s disarmingly deadpan novel of domestic dysfunction nudges readers into the realm of the uncanny, wherein the oh-so-familiar is suddenly rendered strange, even frightening, but which, when faced, leads its characters back to the familiar, and the essential truths of who they are. As the Walker family begins to disintegrate in the usual ways of busy modern urban families, the unusual and extraordinary begin to happen. Eventually, the boundaries between normal and paranormal are blurred to the extent that everything—from a husband and father’s midlife crisis to a teenage boy’s exploration of sex and identity—is edged with strangeness, with magic and finally wonder. A gem.” The Jury, Sunburst Award



Harold is clearly suffering from a mid-life depression, brought on in part by the abrupt death of his one-time best friend, Tom. Harold’s wife Audrey, an increasingly frustrated housewife, is a control freak silently harbouring an explosive secret. They have two teenaged sons: John, the feckless eldest, who appears to be headed for disaster (his girlfriend wants him to steal a car); and Dylan, a caustic observer who doesn’t know as much as he thinks he does.

Things Go Flying in the Walker household when Harold’s long-deceased mother comes back to haunt them. Harold is horrified to find himself suddenly communicating with the dead. He has his mother’s gift—and if there was ever a gift he wanted to return, it’s this one! A door has opened onto the past—and Audrey is similarly terrified. How is she to safeguard her secret now? If she can’t control this world, how is she to control the next one? And how will she protect her good china?

As his situation becomes increasingly complicated, Harold, who has made a practice of avoiding things all his life, must confront two problems—how to find meaning in this life, and how to come to grips with the mostly terrifying idea that life just might go on forever!

Click here for a Reader’s Guide to Things Go Flying.

Read an excerpt from Things Go Flying.

Buy these books wherever fine books are sold.