While waiting in line for apple pie at a party, Imogene Gilfeather, a lingerie designer who does not understand the reason for romance, meets Wally Yez, a scientist whose business card says “An Answer for Everything.” Imogene is told that Wally is the perfect guy. (“Perfect,” she replies, “is not my type.”) He is told that her company, Featherware, manufactures intimates (that gets his attention). Unfazed by Imogene’s indifference (who needs love when you have a career, friends, and an undemanding affair with a married man?), Wally resolves to win her over. E-mails turn into late-night phone calls; one date turns into two and then into more. Thus begins the most absurd and amusingly unbalanced relationship to grace the pages of a novel.
Wally is certain he and Imogene are meant for each other (They both use mechanical pencils! Neither has had mumps! They are so alike!), but convincing his beloved is another matter. (“Do you know why it is I don’t have pierced ears?” she asks. “Because it’s too permanent.”) In defiance of the odds, or the gods, or perhaps just Imogene’s qualms, Wally and Imogene become a pair. They celebrate their anniversaries—the first time they touched each other on purpose, took public transportation together, saw the other with wet hair. But can they possibly end as happily as they’ve begun? (“Does he really have a cowlick? If yes, no bed will ever be big enough.”)
Made up of hundreds of chaplettes, clever illustrations, and darkly funny commentary on getting together and staying the course, Starting from Happy is a cunning and sophisticated send-up of coupledom that showcases one of the finest comic writers of our time.
Amazon Exclusive: Meg Wolitzer Reviews Starting From Happy
Meg Wolitzer is the author of The Uncoupling.
Imogene Gilfeather is a lingerie designer whose Featherware line features the Diaphanous Shroud of Turin Chemise as well as the Let My People Go Passover Bra. Wally Yez is a carefree scientist who studies dizzy chipmunks. They fall in love--at least one of them does. ("Wally is a big yes," says a friend of both, "and Imogene is a big No."). Perhaps you're thinking: wait, this is exactly the same plot as Edith Wharton's The Age of Innocence. Or perhaps you're not thinking that. Regardless, thus begins a freakishly funny and oddly enduring relationship, told in ultra-brief chapters (some as short as a word) that the author calls chaplettes, insisting on spelling the word "the French way." This is the only novel that contains a bonus edition for readers who have had Lasik surgery and are therefore able to read the entire text in two microscopically-rendered pages. As you can perhaps tell, this is not a normal book, but then again, what is "normal"? Patricia Marx has wit without preciousness, barb without snark, and a greatly droll facility with language. Starting From Happy is original, sharp, sweet, and appealing--a book Edith Wharton might read at the beach.
"Patty Marx is a genius of trenchant zaniness."
See all Editorial Reviews
--Lorrie Moore, author of A Gate at the Stairs
“Stylish and sarcastic. Marx moves the story forward with infectious zeal and allows readers to revel in a quirky take on sex (and death) in the city.” --Publishers Weekly
"Patty Marx is an authentic wit and her book is funny and often brilliant." –Woody Allen
“A funny boy-meets-girl novel in witty, quick bits that read like your best friend’s best tweets.”
“A book that’s moving and sweet. As the summer lopes toward its end, those looking for one last beach read could do a lot worse than to read this unexpectedly lovely book - in fact, one could hardly do better.” --Boston Globe
“A poignant portrait of a long-term relationship, with all the disappointments and occasional triumphs that entails. A funny, sad and original take on the mating game.” --Kirkus Reviews
“Comedic high art. Readers who enjoy the sly observations of Nora Ephron and the smart silliness of Woody Allen and Steve Martin should try Starting from Happy.” --Booklist