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Check out the Albuquerque Journal's David Steinburg's review of Defending Happiness!

Stories that make life be more alive

In these 12 short stories, or what might be called essays, Albuquerque’s Amy Shea shares her insights, her independence and her contagious love of life.

Shea’s candor and her original views on personal relationships and issues infuse every page.

Hers is a writing style in which one paragraph takes on a subject and sometimes by the subsequent one it has shifted effortlessly. In between Shea may drop in phrases of humorous analogies.

“Defending Happiness And Other Acts of Bravery – Stories” by Amy Shea
Danzatore Publishing, $14.95, 129 pp.

A good example hits you in the opening story, “Aging Expensively.” Shea describes a weekly trip to Target with her grandson. On this trip, they’re off to buy him a companion for his toy gel frog and to get her “stuff.” The trip includes “Chicken McNuggets and a game of Barrel of Monkeys, during which my grandson cheated like an investment banker.”

The grandson picks a frog but only after she gives him “a highly tangential lecture about genetics and why creationism should never be taught in schools.”

In phrases and even whole sentences, Shea’s story “Uncommon Grounds” covers acres of subjects – a phone call from the author’s mother that lacks a narrative thread; a discussion by the author on getting “the petite genes” from her father’s side of the family; a recollection of the author at age 12 “waiting for breasts, height or the childbearing hips my mother had put to use seven times and counting”; the author being married long enough “to duplicate myself twice”; her grandmother, “who lived to age 97 and died of a broken hip suffered on an unauthorized field trip from a nursing home to get an egg-cream soda.”

The story ironically titled “Cancer Gift” reflects on the anticipation of serious announcements, on talking about cancer and how having it is not easily explained, and on the matter of mortality.

“I have cancer to thank for pointing out that this is a limited engagement, though as a strategy I would not recommend it,” Shea writes.

So you see Shea will make you think, make you laugh, make you appreciate her imagination as she weaves these crazy patterns of thoughts into whole cloth.

Read one story and you’ll want to read more.

David Steinberg is the Journal’s Books editor and an Arts writer.

Amy Shea discusses, signs “Defending Happiness” at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 5, at Page One, 11018 Montgomery NE.