My shame, dear readers, it consumes me.
So let me try to remember something about this book that I read
This is like the Seinfeld of books: clever, hilarious, but ultimately about nothing in particular. Patricia Marx is a comic writer for Saturday Night Live, and that may have something to do with why her book reads like a collection of comedic sketches (but, like, funny ones).
"Her" is a neurotic, underachieving American undergraduate at Cambridge University. "Him" is narcissistic philosopher Eugene Obello, the guy she falls for to a MOST unhealthy degree. Her obsession with him isn't deterred by his repellent personality or eventual marriage to another woman or the birth of his child or the advice of everyone in her life to cease any and all future communications with him. She explains her fixation in this way:
"Don’t think I didn’t go out with other guys during those years. But that isn’t this story. And besides, none of the guys is worth telling you about. None had read Zeno in the ancient Greek. None had even read Zeno. None usually had a copy of the Magna Carta in his pocket. None spoke about the joys of reciting poetry while looking out o’er the prow of a boat. None had 'learn to play didgeridoo' on his To Do list. None could sing the rules of cricket. None had brown eyes with kind of yellow-specky things. None kissed the way Eugene did, which wasn’t that special, I have come to see, but this was before I came to see that. None put salt on his pizza." (p. 124)I could tolerate these characters ONLY in a fictional universe. If I knew people like this in real life, I would not find them amusing. I would slap them repeatedly in the face and change my phone number.
I think the tone of the book is what keeps it in Entertain-Me-With-Your-Shenanigans World and out of I-Can't-Just-Stand-By-While-You-RUIN-YOUR-LIFE Land. I'm convinced that this is what Steve Martin was aiming for with Shopgirl. But where his characters are self-involved and unlikable and the narrator pretentious and aloof, Marx's characters are self-involved and unlikable and the narrator adorably self-deprecating.
Look at her being all quirky and whatnot.
"We were having instant coffee, which I found delicious because it was Dutch. It didn’t bother me that the coffee contained specks of crud—all the more bohemian. I later realized I’d been drinking metal fragments from the electric kettle. I am including this detail in case I get a mysterious disease and the doctors need help with the diagnosis." (p. 13)
|You're weird. But I like you.|
"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." (p. 4)
I can get behind that theory, because it means I will live FOREVER.
And look at this alternate cover art!
It looks as though she's intending to END him with a book. This amuses me.
SOURCE: Marx, Patricia. (2007). Him Her Him Again The End of Him. New York: Scribner.