cover image Starting from Happy

Starting from Happy

Patricia Marx. Scribner, $24 (256p) ISBN 978-1-4391-0128-5

Domestic lit gets a stylish, sarcastic tweak in former SNL writer Marx's sort-of love story about a cranky New York lingerie designer and a geeky scientist (after Him Her Him Again The End of Him). An inauspicious meeting leads to 618 micro-chapters during which Imogene Gilfeather and Wally Yez have been compatible singles, dutiful marrieds, and committed parents%E2%80%94and thought better of each station. Marx moves the story forward with an infectious zeal, ditching traditional narrative in favor of a torrent of often tweet-sized "chaplettes" that distill the essential truth about falling in love and staying there%E2%80%94with whimsical illustrations, including a New York child's guide to the U.S. and Imogene's shroud of Turin chemise. With no expectations for uplifting, life-affirming messages about family and commitment, Marx allows readers to revel in a quirky take on sex (and death) in the city. "Did anything go well for Wally and Imogene in these years? Were there moments of happiness?" ask the intrusive author. "Sure there were, but is that the kind of book you want to read?" Definitely not. (Aug.)