How Happy to Be

Publisher: McClelland & Stewart
How Happy to Be captures the life of a disillusioned entertainment journalist as she heads into a downward spiral of ritual substance abuse and empty punditry. Along this path of self-destruction, her past on a West Coast commune, both comic and poignant, keeps intruding. It isn’t until her indiscretions catch up with her that she realizes she must face that past if she is to have any chance of finding where her happiness lies.

Onstad’s ability to blend satire with a moving story of coming to terms with life’s deepest wounds makes
How Happy to Be a wholly satisfying and striking novel.


After she died, everything tasted worse. unlike my father, my mother had no contempt for the occasional dinner in a tinfoil tray, clean borders between tastes. I would imitate her walk down the frozen food aisle, breath frosting the air, hips sliding, shoulders back. A walk I only later recognized as sexy when I saw it...
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1. How Happy to Be begins in the melancholy childhood aftermath of Maxime’s mother’s death but quickly switches to Maxime’s present-day world of hangovers and men she calls “Ad Sales” and “Knee-Socks Steve,” revealing how the character masks her unease and fear of...

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“Katrina Onstad finds that magic place between fact and fiction and charms the reader with her discovery. A wonderful book.”
— Douglas Coupland

“Pop culture geeks will go nuts for Onstad’s brutal dissection of the life of a media whore. . . . A triumph.”
NOW magazine

“A deft meditation on nostalgia, grieving, and familial relations. . . . Fresh, compelling and flawless.”
Toronto Star

“[An] ambitious and impressive first novel . . . intelligent and arresting. An auspicious literary debut.”
National Post

“An acerbic, hilarious and culturally astute page-turner of a debut.”