Excerpt: I Don’t Have a Happy Place by Kim Korson

happyplaceI Don’t Have a Happy Place: Cheerful Stories of Despondency and Gloom
By: Kim Korson
Publisher: Gallery Books
Published: April 14, 2015
Genre: Memoir

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When a trip to the therapist ends with the question “Can’t Kim be happy?” Kim Korson responds the way any normal person would—she makes fun of it. Because really, does everyone have to be happy?

Aside from her father wearing makeup and her mother not feeling well (a lot), Kim Korson’s 1970s suburban upbringing was typical. Sometimes she wished her brother were an arsonist just so she’d have a valid excuse to be unhappy. And when life moves along pretty decently–she breaks into show business, gets engaged in the secluded jungles of Mexico, and moves her family from Brooklyn to dreamy rural Vermont—the real despondency sets in. It’s a skill to find something wrong in just about every situation, but Kim has an exquisite talent for negativity. It is only after half a lifetime of finding kernels of unhappiness where others find joy that she begins to wonder if she is even capable of experiencing happiness.

In I Don’t Have a Happy Place, Kim Korson untangles what it means to be a true malcontent. Rife with evocative and nostalgic observations, unapologetic realism, and razor-sharp wit, I Don’t Have a Happy Place is told in humorous, autobiographical stories. This fresh-yet-dark voice is sure to make you laugh, nod your head in recognition, and ultimately understand what it truly means to be unhappy. Always.


Samantha Narvey had all the good Barbies. They showcased the latest sold-separately fashions, traveled in their Country Camper (with vinyl pop-out tent), and sunned their twisty bodies, naked, on foating orange chairs in the Pool Party pool. Her dolls never lost their plastic heels or tall brown boots or mini hangers. Samantha Narvey knew how to take care of her things—and Samantha Narvey had a lot of things. Like a yellow Sit ‘n Spin and a playground for her Weebles; a garden-themed bedroom, with grass green shag carpeting and painted flowers growing up the walls; a bathroom with two sinks in it. She also had a hyperactive brother who got blamed for everything and a greyhound puppy named Gucci. If Samantha Narvey had to use the bathroom, she’d say she had to make in this hushed voice that grown-ups seemed to be crazy about. Her well-heeled grandparents spoke with elegant accents, like Count Chocula, and traveled overseas regularly, returning home with offerings of burgundy velvet culottes or sectioned chocolate orange slices. Samantha was darling and poised. When we took ballet together, she didn’t look dumb in her elephant headdress, nor did she take the wrong turn during the recital and end up in that line of gazelles. Samantha Narvey was only fve years old, and yet she had it all. And just in case the scales weren’t completely tipped in her favor, just in case she didn’t already have every single thing known to man, in the summer of 1973 it was her babysitter, not mine, who drowned in front of our eyes. I wondered what more the world could bestow upon her.



KIM KORSON is a writer, originally from Montreal, Canada. She has written for O Magazine and Moomah The Magazine. Kim now lives in Southern Vermont with her husband and two kids. She doesn’t get out much.

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3 Thoughts on “Excerpt: I Don’t Have a Happy Place by Kim Korson

  1. Interesting. I know a lot of people would want to be happy, this chick sounds a little cray. Why would she dwell on this?

  2. Well, this seems like an odd one. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Kim’s right in that everyone doesn’t need to be happy all of the time, but sometimes a little happiness is okay. Wonder why she works so hard to be so negative? Great excerpt and makes me want to read more!

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