What if a self-help book actually worked?
Edwin De Valu is a junior editor at Panderic Press, responsible for the self-help division. When the author of their best-selling Mr. Ethics series is jailed for fraud, he is asked to find something else to fill the gap in their fall publishing schedule. That something else is the rambling What I Learned on the Mountain by Tupak Soiree, which becomes a huge success with terrible consequences.
Satirical novel by Will Ferguson, originally published as Generica in Canada in 2002 and retitled Happiness TM for its international publication the following year. It discusses and deconstructs a lot of publishing tropes.
Tropes in Happiness TM:
- Adam and Eve Plot: Discussed. Everyone at Panderic Press is sick of reading proposals with this plot.
- Author Allusion: Edwin's book Why I Hate Baby Boomers is an allusion to Will Ferguson's first published book, 1997's Why I Hate Canadians.
- Decoy Leader
- Department of Redundancy Department: Discussed. As an editor, Edwin can't stop himself from pointing these out.
- Did Not Get the Girl: Edwin and May do not end up together.
- Does This Make Me Look Fat?: Edwin's Unwanted Spouse Jenni is always asking this.
- Doorstopper: What I Learned on the Mountain.
- Empty Shell: The devotees of Soiree's book seen to become this.
- Executive Meddling: Discussed a lot as In-universe, this is basically Edwin's job.
- Gone Horribly Right: The premise of the novel.
- Granola Girl: Jenni.
- HeelFace Turn: Sam "The Snake" Serpent does one after reading What I Learned on the Mountain, just in time to stop him from carrying out his death threat against Edwin.
- Hypocrite: The author of the Mr. Ethics books is jailed for fraud and murder.
- Instant Book Deal: From Tupak Soiree's point of view, this is what happens with What I Learned on the Mountain.
- Line-of-Sight Name: Tupak Soiree is eventually explained as this.
- The Man Behind the Curtain: Jack McGreary.
- Next Sunday A.D.: Claims to be set "ten minutes from now."
- Only in It for the Money: McGreary's motivation.
- Pointy-Haired Boss: Panderic Press head Leon Mead.
- Punny Name: Edwin de Valu ("devalue," yes?) and Tupak Soiree.
- Rags to Riches: Rory Wilhacker, the janitor in Panderic's building, has this after becoming the first person to read What I Learned on the Mountain and follows one of Tupak's financial tips. Edwin executes the same stunt, but he gets left with just $1.47 after Jenni leaves him.
- Sophisticated as Hell: The book around which the plot revolves is written in this way, eschewing a book's typical structure but still seeming to flow cohesively and comment insightfully on all its reference points.
- Not surprisingly, the author is also this. Jack McGreary has a coarse demeanor and a foul mouth, but he also has a wealth of life experience, and he knew exactly how to write a book 99.7% of the people who read it would like.
- Tradesnark: It's in the title.
- Try to Fit THAT on a Business Card!: May's job title is Associate Editor-in-Chief, Non-Fiction, Excluding Biographies but Including Angels and Alien Abductions.
- Weight Woe: May is always on a fad diet.