Stuck in Bed, Appropriate Irony


Ask The Paris Review

I read a Richard Yates novel. And I’m fucking depressed. Like wow, what a downer. Give me something to cheer me up. —Jeff Swift

Like, you can’t get out of bed? Get someone to bring you the Jeeves novels of P.G. Wodehouse. They are extra-strength heartening. Emergency use only. For a mild case of the blues, may I suggest either of Sam Lipsyte’s last two novels, Home Land or The Ask? Some reviewers call them depressing, but they’re not. They master depression. And they take place on Yatesian territory—the suburbs of failure. Yet they are full of Olympian laughter. Some people swear by Laurie Colwin. Try Happy All the Time. Or Consenting Adults, by Peter de Vries. If nothing else works . . . I’m not sure how to recommend this, but are you familiar with I Am a Bunny? I have come this close to stealing that book from two separate babies, during two different dark nights of the soul. If you ask me, the consolations offered by I Am a Bunny are wasted on the extremely young.

Is irony ever an appropriate excuse? —Neil F.


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