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Starting from Happy: A Novel Hardcover – August 23, 2011


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Scribner; First Edition edition (August 23, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1439101280
  • ISBN-13: 978-1439101285
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.9 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 2.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,581,230 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

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.


Review

"Patty Marx is a genius of trenchant zaniness."
--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.”
--O Magazine

“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

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Customer Reviews

A very easy read.
Kristin
I'd have given this one star if it had taken me longer than a couple of hours to read.
rileyrobot
No redeeming qualities, no story, no way.
Ink and Page

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Stephen T. Hopkins VINE VOICE on August 23, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Prepare for pleasure, even laughter, when you read Patricia Marx' zany novel, Starting from Happy. All relationships are quirky, but Imogene and Wally are two of the oddest characters readers are likely to encounter, and enjoy getting to know. The structure of the novel itself is funny: short chapters, as brief as a single word, including author commentary. Her experience at Saturday Night Live and The New Yorker comes through with skit-like narrative and perfectly chosen words. Read any sample, and if you like it, you're likely to enjoy the whole thing.

Rating: Three-star (Recommended)
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Mary Mapes Dodge on October 20, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I kept hoping for laugh-out-loud moments in this book, but I truly didn't find any. Rather than funny, this is perhaps the most light-minded, plot-thin book I've ever read. I kept reading it anticipating a satisfying finish to all the nonsense, but again I was disappointed. I'm sure Patricia Marx is a lovely person, but she wrote an insipid book.
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Delaney Faulk on August 30, 2011
Format: Hardcover
If you have ever felt like you are the only one who isn't perfect - perfectly married, perfect friends, and a reallyreally perfect kids - then go buy this book and get a dose of reality. If Proust and Groucho Marx had teamed up and were writing today, they would come up with something like this. Funny, wise and remarkably clever all at the same time. Thanks Patty Marx, whereever you are.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Aviva on October 15, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
An interesting approach to a formula story; the author as part of the story lightens it up considerably.
I'll be passing this one along rather than keeping it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Sharon on October 10, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Hard to describe this bizarre and entertaining reading - I wouldn't quite call it a novel. The former SNL writer author draws charts and pictures while using minimal words.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By P. Little on November 6, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Was very disappointed with this novel. From the promo, I thought it was going to be more inspirational; instead, I found it lacking in substance and chose not to read it in its entirety. It just didn't capture my interest. Not what I was used to at all.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By rileyrobot on June 5, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I'd have given this one star if it had taken me longer than a couple of hours to read. I am quite disappointed in Patricia Marx, who, based on her background, should be very funny. Maybe novels are just not her forte? I wouldn't mind the drawings or the "chaplettes" or any of the other gimmicky aspects of the book if there had been any there there, but this is a pretty empty, meaningless novel that it appears Marx herself loses interest in maybe a third of the way through.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Julie Tuggle on May 4, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I really tried to like this book. I mean after all, the author is a former writer for Saturday Night Live, a finalist for the Thurber Prize for American Humor and teaches screenwriting at Princeton University. But the writing just didn't connect for me - seemed very contrived, forced. Not funny at all. I bet Patricia Marx is a very funny person to hang around - but her humor just doesn't translate well with this latest effort.
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