Happiness Through Philosophy and Other Nonsense collects more than two dozen short short stories, vignettes, and flash-fiction pieces. From Hemingway’s last poem to the science of Worcestershire sauce to Jean-Paul Sartre’s ghost, Happiness Through Philosophy is profane, bawdy, satirical, and nonsensical.

About half of these pieces were previously published in various out-of-print places, mostly in the parody anthology Rubber Chickens for the Soul and a couple in The Silly Club Rag, a humor newsletter. Others have interesting backstories: the first draft of “The Unfathomable and Undeserved Success of Percy K. Smith” won a fiction-writing contest in the English department at my university, “Happiness Through Philosophy” got me a job interview with Garrison Keillor (but not the job), and “A Cup of Dirty Tea” won the bawdy category of a tea limerick contest. Some were written expressly for this collection, while the rest have been revised, sometimes quite substantially. I plan on publishing this in both print and e-book form. The excerpt below is the opening of the title story.

Happiness Through Philosophy

Somewhere in Minnesota, a couple sits at their dining room table. The wife notices her husband staring out the window, not eating. She puts down her silverware.

What’s the matter, dear? You’ve barely touched your tater tot bisque.

I don’t know. It’s just—

It’s the cumin, isn’t it? It’s too spicy.

No, no, the cumin’s fine. I’m just not that hungry. I’ve been depressed lately. The whole world has gone crazy. I don’t know if anything will work out. It’s all out of my control.

(after a pause)
It’s the tater tots, isn’t it? It’s too crunchy for bisque.

No, no, the tater tots are fine. I just can’t enjoy your nouveau Minnesota cuisine when I have this miasma of melancholy, this—

(with a French accent)
This malaise, this maladie, if you will?

Oh, look, dear, the late Jean-Paul Sartre, famous French existentialist. . . .

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