Funny Lady: Interview with Novelist Patricia Marx

In Patricia Marx’s comic first novel, falling for a narcissist is easy: How can you resist a guy who so convincingly loves himself?

By Jean Hanff Korelitz

Although Patricia Marx, 53, has collaborated on collections with cartoonist Roz Chast, written for Saturday Night Live, and given us humor books such as How to Regain Your Virginity and 1,003 Great Things About Getting Older, the first novel to slip from her witty pen is the just published Him Her Him Again The End of Him (Scribner), the timeless tale of a narcissistic lothario and the sweet, deluded woman who loves him.Q. What was it like, writing your first novel in your 50s?A. Well, writing a novel may be scarier the older you get because you have more at stake, but you’ve also accumulated all these opinions and you can dump them into the novel.Q. What took you so long?A. I was doing my laundry, I was drying my hair, I was running errands.Q. Have you ever had a tortured love affair with a Cambridge-educated narcissist?A. I gravitate toward narcissists. Maybe they have a strong electromagnetic pull. Anyway, you don’t have to buoy them up; they do it for you.Q. There’s something strangely familiar about Eugene, the "Him" in the novel. Could I have dated him?A. Everybody dated him. At one time my dedication was going to read: "You’re so vain, you probably think this book is about you."Q. Now and then, the narrator brings in her women friends as sounding boards to comment on Eugene’s various emotional crimes. Why doesn’t she listen to them?A. Yes, why does she keep asking for advice if she’s not going to listen? She keeps hoping she’ll get someone who agrees with her.Q. You’ve collaborated with some fantastic humorists: Roz Chast, Lisa Birnbach, Steve Martin, and Doug McGrath.A. Collaborating isn’t writing. It’s a party. It’s very social.Q. Does life get funnier as we get older? Do we get funnier?A. Oh yeah, we do. There’s a what-the-hell attitude that becomes more pronounced. And not to be pretentious, but once you realize you’re going to die, you can’t be that serious.Q. How did you celebrate your 50th?A. Why does everyone give bar mitzvah-like parties for their 50th birthday? They make you go to a city you’ve never heard of and give a toast! I didn’t tell anybody about mine. The danger, of course, is that if you don’t plan a party, someone will surprise you with one, which is really the worst. Q. And being single in your 50s?A. I love it. The older you get, the more your married peers have time for you. They used to spend every second with their husbands and kids, and now they’re so happy to get away from their responsibilities that they’re much more fun to be with. I’m not averse to being with someone, I just think you can play a winning game either way.Buy Him Her Him Again The End of Him Originally published in MORE magazine, February 2007.

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