“A deeply interesting mind is at work in these wry, lyrical stories.” 

Amy Hempel


And Yet They Were Happy chronicles the adventures large and small of a young couple setting out to build a life in an unstable world. It’s a world haunted by monsters, a world plagued by natural disasters, a world on the verge of collapse–but also a place of transformation, wonder, and delight, peopled by the likes of Noah, Eve, Bob Dylan, the Virgin Mary, Jack Kerouac, Anne Frank, and a cast of fairytale creatures. Hovering between reality and fantasy, autobiography and mythology, whimsy and darkness, And Yet They Were Happy is a journey through a universe at once peculiar and familiar. 


"Full of gems."
Vanity Fair

"A deeply interesting mind is at work in these wry, lyrical stories. Helen Phillips exploits the duality of our nature to create a timeless and most engaging collection."
Amy Hempel

"Haunted and lyrical and edible all at once: these stories feel as natural and strange as if they were found inscribed on the inside of a nutshell."
Rivka Galchen

"This constellation of prose-poem pieces resists the kind of categorization required to sell books ... the reader sits on a carousel horse and watches familiar people and objects whirl by."
The Los Angeles Times

"Brashly experimental."

"In Helen Phillips’ brilliant miniatures, delighted readers will learn of the later, suburban life of Adam and Eve, visit a mouse carnival, and make the acquaintance of  men who kill unicorns and sisters who yearn to live in a Maxfield Parrish painting. Like the fables of  Italo Calvino, Steven Millhauser or W.S. Merwin, And Yet They Were Happy beautifully blends the short story and the prose poem, its pages chockablock with mermaids, subways, canals, floods, cucumbers, magicians, and encounters with Bob Dylan. The book is itself a gallery of marvels. Phillips guides us through the 'Hall of Nostalgia For Things We Have Never Seen' and then follows up with tours of  both 'the factory where the virgins are made' and the 'Anne Frank School for Expectant Mothers.' A depressed Noah admits that he 'didn’t get them all,' a wife must guess which of two identical-seeming men is her husband, and a regime orders its citizens to grow raspberries on windowsills. Not least, even though one fairytale princess gradually forgets 'how to write perfect script,' Helen Phillips never does: Her quietly elegant sentences are always as clear as spring water, as haunting as our own childhood memories."
Michael Dirda