Minneapolis rock legend Mark Mallman woke at 3 a.m. with a crushing panic attack that wouldn't end. He responded by pouring songs into a happiness playlist and leaning on the wisdom of friends. This is the true story of a man beset by grief, healed by music, and learning to laugh through it all.
One great strength of the book is Mallman’s deep affection for and knowledge of Minneapolis and its music scene. Between worshipful conversations about Prince and gigs at places across the city, he paints an active picture of the place, its people, its restaurants and bars, and its niche shops and history. The scent of deep-fried tater tots nearly wafts off the page as Mallman meets with friends at neighborhood haunts. He relishes the names of specific streets and stores, imbuing the text with familiar names for residents of the city ... The prose is fueled by short, declarative sentences and a narrative willingness to be emotionally vulnerable. It is often funny and just as often bittersweet ... Speaking with conviction to the notion that music can heal, The Happiness Playlist is a memoir with the potential to inspire others to see music as a comfort, a companion, and a healing balm.
Each chapter covers a different month, and the reader will watch him grow emotionally into self-reliance, with the help of his friends, father, and music ... Having never experienced anxiety or the loss of a parent myself, I still feel that I can understand Mallman’s story well through his writing and the emotion it portrays as well as through my personal understanding of the impact music has on changing a person’s mood.
The author’s epiphanies are somewhat esoteric, and there is no one moment where he declares victory over sadness ... Perhaps as a result of his musical background, his prose also delivers staccato, declarative lines ... While the prose is economical, it can feel terse until the rhythm settles in. Overall, observing Mallman fighting grief feels like watching a fishing bobber battling a strong current. Still, this book should offer solace to anyone grappling with a similar situation ... Readers struggling with depression will likely find comfort and solidarity in this account.