The truly revolutionary promise of our nation’s founding document is the freedom to pursue happiness-with-a-capital-H.
For the founding fathers pursuing happiness was an American ideal. Dan Savage takes up the challenge. For spice (and as a backhanded tribute to the separation of church and state) Dan adds the naughty flavoring of sin, traveling the nation in pursuit of happiness via the seven deadlies: greed, lust, sloth, gluttony, envy, pride, and anger. In the Gluttony chapter Dan Savage flies in to a Fat Acceptance convention in search of people unashamed of excess. Peculiarly skinny in a sea of Big Beautiful Women, Dan finds himself a center of attention. “’So how long have you been an FA?’ ask[s new acquaintance] Teresa. An effay? ‘Fat admirer,’” the woman explains. Though Dan’s lead in to the convention is often very funny, with self-deprecating remarks and misjudgments, the stories he hears once there can be tragic. Teresa tells him she has had surgery to slim down, and mourns friends lost to obesity. In the Envy chapter, Dan signs up for a week at a $500-a-night health spa, thinking he will get pampered and catered to, experiencing firsthand a lifestyle he has envied from afar. When Dan arrives and is repulsed by the “cheap, tacky décor,” it’s not the first hint he’s taken a wrong turn on envy road. Though Dan Savage can be opinionated, occasionally even a scold, the tone is more like that of the curmudgeonly Andy Rooney than the high moral dudgeon of a Robert Bork (Dan’s title is a play on a tract by the rejected Supreme Court nominee). The kvetching is hilarious often enough, so I forgive him for when it’s not. For the Greed chapter Dan goes to a casino; for the Lust chapter he hangs out with Swingers; for the Anger chapter he learns how to fire a pistol; for the Pride chapter he hangs out in L.A. with yuppie gays; and for the Sloth chapter, well, wouldn’t doing something to indulge one’s sloth be working at cross purposes? And how much happiness does Dan Savage run to ground? Some. But the pursuit, perhaps, is the goal.
Check the BPL catalog for this title: Skipping Towards Gomorrah