"Ms. Joseph's sense of the apt detail, of the rapid-fire of human commerce, of the way the important gets hidden in the flippant, the hilarity of it all, the sadness, too, the sympathy she emits and provokes for the complexity of just living -- all that makes this book irresistible to me."
-- Richard Ford
"...Like the best storytellers -- fictional or otherwise -- Joseph treats her people with compassion. She manages to be very funny. But she refuses to reduce her family to a comedy routine. Her stories are often sad, but she never lionizes suffering. Instead, she sifts through the ruins of her romantic and emotional entanglements, with an eye on the absurdities we endure in the name of love. I'm Sorry You Feel That Way is sure to offend the faint of heart, but it's hard to recall another collection of essays, or a memoir, with more natural charm."
-- Steve Almond, L.A. Times
"Despite the mouthful of a title, there isn't an excess word in this smart and tightly constructed debut. Fans of David Sedaris and Sarah Vowell will appreciate Joseph's portraits of the men in her life. From her young son's trench foot to her blue-collar father's attempt at a sex talk, these impeccably detailed stories are as heartfelt as they are trenchantly funny."
-- Library Journal (starred review)
"The book's title, I'm Sorry You Feel That Way: The Astonishing But True Story of a Daughter, Sister, Slut, Wife, Mother, and Friend to Man & Dog, might make you wonder if Diana Joseph defines herself by men, but the answer is, resoundingly, No. She's just been surrounded by scads of them her entire life. And so the stories of her childhood, her adolescence, and her adult years emerge not as a straight narrative, but through chapters dedicated to her relationships with the opposite sex - with a couple of dogs and cats thrown in for good measure.
Chapter 1 goes to her dad, an auto-body shop owner who never wears a shirt and smokes two packs a day. Then there's Vincent, the bad boy of her 19th year, who drank, shoplifted, and emblazoned her name on his demolition-derby car. Her first husband. Her son, a right-wing Republican, who informed her at a tender age that he hated NPR and Bob Dylan. Her Satanist neighbor. And so on.
As Joseph describes these boys and men, it's she herself who emerges most clearly. I'm Sorry is full of quirky details and remembered snippets of conversation, most of it revealing in its everyday ordinariness. It turns out you can learn an awful lot about a person by what her dad chooses to confide in her, or what her brothers tease her about. I'm Sorry might sound like a sideways swipe at a memoir, but nothing could be further from the truth - it manages to be nostalgic, sad, and pee-in-your-pants funny. A-"
-- Tina Jordan, Entertainment Weekly
"With memoirs, there's a fine line between wading through memories and doing a cannonball into the pool of self-indulgence.
But in Diana Joseph's new book, I'm Sorry You Feel That Way: the Astonishing but True Story of a Daughter, Sister, Slut, Wife, Mother, and Friend to Man and Dog, there's no trip to the mental hospital/spiritual guru/homeless shelter. She's just a regular chick who chronicles her life and loves in prose that gets to the point.
Joseph's fears of being labeled loose by her father and son, anxiety about her divorce, and identification with her stuffed dinosaur-humping puppy may have you thinking, Hey, that could be me. She makes no apologies and explains how her relationships - rather than confining her - made her an intelligent (and sometimes terrible) woman with a wicked sense of humor.
It's a great example of the ordinary being related extraordinarily.
Without going off the deep end."
-- Candy Daily, Philadelphia
"Diana Joseph has never chosen the path of least resistance, or the straight and narrow; in fact her path has so many twists she could never find her way back, but she doesn't look back anyway. She writes of her mistakes with candor, no regret, and a wry sense of humor that will resonate with anyone who has grown up to find that this wasn't the way we had imagined it. One couldn't ask for a better travelling companion."
-- Lyn Roberts, Square Books
"A rite of passage for many teens is the sex talk. For debut memoirist Joseph, it was the "slut" talk administered by her hard-edged father. "See, what happens is sometimes a girl will go with this one, and then she'll go with that one, and then she thinks, what the hell, that one there doesn't look so bad, why not go with that one, too," he'd opine as he pulled on an unfiltered Lucky. In the years that followed, Joseph's life was peppered with prickly relationships with the opposite sex, from boyfriends so icky they became woeful stories recounted over strawberry margaritas to an ex-husband who broke her heart (but still fixes her brakes). She buys her son a doll to put him in touch with his feminine side but later decides she'd rather groom him to be the next Bruce Springsteen. Joseph's mordant sense of humor helps her make hay from harrowing life experiences. But there are poignant moments here, too, where emotional pain is played for more than just laughs."
"In this bleak, sad and occasionally funny memoir, Joseph (Happy or Otherwise) explores life through the lens of the male relationships, both human and canine, woven into her life. It is not an easy task. She admits she's never really been part of a female circle of friends ("I'm a girly girl who enjoys a good fart joke") and ponders why this is so. Maybe it's because she grew up with brothers; maybe it's because her father was such a mysterious and godlike presence in her life that she spent most of her time seeking out male approval. Joseph adeptly scrutinizes the often opposing female and male sensibilities. She has a great eye for telling details that complete a character or scene. She routinely ends with men who don't suit her, or places she dislikes. "They didn't know I didn't belong at any gathering where people took tidy sips of wine, then remarked upon its bouquet or nibbled on stuffed mushrooms or spread a thin layer of hummus across pita bread." Whether describing a friendship with her alcoholic boss; her younger brother, a cop nicknamed Bye-Bye; or her father, who never reads books for pleasure but always reads the newspaper, Joseph strives to tell the straight story while not ignoring the potholes along the way."
-- Publisher's Weekly
"Diana Joseph's book is gritty, elegiac, and witty - a paean to the many ways in which we all love and ache. Her keenly observant writing is compassionate yet utterly without sentimentality. I'm Sorry You Feel That Way begins slowly and simply, then builds like a symphony. Its uncommon, everyday love stories are peopled with flawed, compelling characters who reflect the author's own humanity like shards of mirror, creating a work of unexpected power and truth."
-- Susan Jane Gilman
"Somehow hard-boiled and warm-hearted all at once, Joseph's stories have an unflinching honesty and a wry appreciation for the absurdities of masculinity and motherhood."
"I am grateful for every minute I spent in the delightful company of Diana Joseph. I picked up her memoir late one afternoon, and proceeded to ignore my children, my dinner, and even my bedtime. I gobbled it up in a single sitting. Funny and poignant, it's a real treat."