Tuesday, December 19, 2006

A Book Review from the Verge

A little background: I am currently a member of Simon and Schuster’s Reader’s Advisory Board. I don’t receive monetary compensation, but I do receive free advance reader’s copies as well as the occasional hardcover book. Sometimes the books don’t pique my interest. Luckily, I am sent a variety of genres and am required to review only one out of every three I receive. Intermittently I receive books from Harper Collins as well, as part of their First Look Program. If you are a book lover, I suggest you check it out. http://www.harpercollins.com/members/firstlook/index.aspx

S&S recently sent me a book titled, Him Her Him Again the End of Him by Patricia Marx. The unusual title intrigued me, as did the credentials of the author. Marx is a former Saturday Night Live writer and is a regular contributor to the New York Times as well as the New Yorker magazine. Admittedly, the one line summary, “A brilliantly funny debut novel about one woman’s hilarious obsession with her first boyfriend” worried me. The last thing I needed was another version of Bridget Jones’ Diary. Don’t get me wrong, I love Bridget. It’s just that the three thousand four hundred twelve Bridget wannabes have worn me down. Anyway, the unnamed protagonist turned out to be hilarious, witty, and intelligent. It was a combination that hooked me.

A resident of Baltimore, displaced temporarily to Cambridge University where she was struggling with her thesis (the subject of which was ever changing with her mood), our central character met the “Him” of the title, Eugene Obello. Eugene was egotistical, selfish, and shallow… but still she loved him. Actually “obsessed” might be a better term for how she felt. Why, exactly, she was so taken with a man who carried the Magna Carta in his pocket and uses terms like “anon” and “whilst” and “my ever-new enchantment” with a straight face is beyond me.

Our girl wonder floundered through life, waiting for Eugene as he philandered through an unknown number of women and stroked his own ego. Luckily she had other things to do or I may have had to abandon her. A cadre of interesting friends, a dysfunctional family, and various bizarre jobs rounded out her life nicely, if not for her, for me.

So why was she likeable? How can you not love a protagonist who helps write a sketch for a kiddie show titled “The Time-Out Electric Chair”? And as far as intelligence goes, the fact that she even considered calling a chapter of her thesis “How Successful is T.S. Kuhn in Avoiding Problems of Relativism in His Discussion of Paradigms in Natural Sciences” makes her sound clever… even if she never actually finished it. She has a vocabulary to die for, and when in doubt, she can bluff her way through. In other words, the question is: What’s not to like?

Marx has conjured up a hilarious book with thousands of little gems like this one: “My grandmother also told me that she -- my grandmother -- believes everyone has a determined number of footsteps to use up in a lifetime, and, therefore, it is foolhardy to exercise since you will only exhaust your quota sooner and die.” Words to live by, if you ask me.

If you are looking for some light reading after the holidays, I can think of no better novel.

Him Her Him Again the End of Him will be published by Simon and Schuster in January 2007.

1 Comment:

Bloggers Home Page said...

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You would also be very welcome to add your blog to BloggersHomePage.com.

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