Starting from Happy: A Novel by Patricia Marx
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.