In Richard Flanegan's Booker winning A Narrow Road to the Deep North, there is an arresting sentence, "A happy man has no past. An unhappy man has nothing else." It bought to mind Tolstoy's opening line of Anna Karenina, "All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way."

The latter has always struck me as wrong: unhappy and happy families come in multiple forms. But Flanegan's aphorism seems to be filled with truth - and sadness.

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