True and Total Happiness is a short story I wrote in the fall of 2007. At the time I’d been reading a lot of short stories by Donald Barthelme and thinking about things, which is what writers seem to do with large portions of their time. I make reference to Barthelme not in an attempt to compare myself with him—he wrote at a level few will ever achieve, and I will doubtfully be among their midst—but rather to give a little context for what was going on in my mind when I composed it.

The story deals with the deification and commodification of personal effervescence in our society, which is just a fancy way of saying that in writing it I was attempting to address why so many of us think personal happiness is not only the utmost goal of life, but also that it’s something that can be purchased, like dish-soap or shoe-laces.

My only wish for this story now is that in reading it you find yourself made happy…

The story is available to download here.