When Julie Hecht's stories first appeared in The New Yorker, her unnamed photographer-narrator became an instant literary icon. Chronicles of her strategies for surviving civilization's decline -- herbal remedies, macrobiotics, a bit of Xanax -- have established her as one of the most captivating and eagerly read voices in modern literature.
In this new collection of stories, Julie Hecht reclaims the darkly funny, existential territory for which she is known: "People say 'Good morning,' but don't believe them. It's just something to say." The uniquely eccentric narrator reappears in Happy Trails to You and recounts her perplexed engagements with our society and the larger world -- whether she's attempting to withdraw money from a bank machine, worrying about Paul McCartney, or seeking a nonexistent place of calm on Nantucket, where nail guns and chain saws have replaced the sounds of birds singing.
Appalled by life in our times, the narrator recounts innumerable artifacts from a now vanished America (civility, idealism, Elvis Presley, well-made appliances). She is also exquisitely attuned to the absurdities of our culture; her acute observations illuminate every subject, from the dangers of microwave ovens to the disappearing ozone layer. With deadpan wit, the author reveals the truths of a new century. Happy Trails to You is a radically distinctive work of American fiction.
Julie Hecht is the author of Do the Windows Open?, Was This Man a Genius?: Talks with Andy Kaufman, and The Unprofessionals. Her stories have been published in The New Yorker and Harper's. She has won an O. Henry Prize and received a Guggenheim Fellowship. She lives on the east end of Long Island in winter and in Massachusetts in summer and fall. She has been writing stories since she was eight years old.
"Julie Hecht's new collection is funny, acerbic, angry, intelligent, and totally original. Her writing mixes horror and hilarity. I love her voice." - Roz Chast
"But as times have changed, so has [the book's] character -- wonderfully, bracingly so. Hecht's latest story collection, Happy Trails to You, is piloted by the same half-babbling, half-deadpan voice, now with larger, more political concerns...These aren't merely the worries of an eccentric middle-aged East Coast vegetarian; they're the all-too-common concerns of the mainstream liberal consciousness. In the new century, Hecht's narrator is suddenly less alone in her alarm and alienation, finding more kindred spirits than ever before...But Hecht plays with this stereotype on many levels, and the collection's strongest moments describe a frustration with civilization that can't be blamed solely on psychosis." -- Katherine Hill, Bookforum