Picks and Pans Review: Him Her Him Again the End of Him

updated 01/22/2007 at 01:00 AM EST

originally published 01/22/2007 01:00AM

by Patricia Marx

REVIEWED BY JONATHAN DURBIN

CRITIC'S CHOICE

NOVEL

Eugene Obello is an insufferable boor, an overeducated pedant whose every turn of phrase is condescending enough to curdle milk. But that doesn't stop the unnamed protagonist of Marx's hilarious first novel from loving him dearly, obsessing over him for a decade and allowing him to ruin her life. Eugene is fond of sentences like "Apollinaire said sickness is the vacation of the poor"—typical of his elitism, and, in context, very funny. Surely, only a woman blinded—or deafened—by love could lust for a creature who spoke like that. The novel follows Marx's protagonist from her days as a Ph.D. candidate at Cambridge, where she meets Eugene, to her stint as a New York writer on Taped But Proud, a Saturday Night Live-esque show, where she continues to pine. Eventually, the one-sided love story leads to a dead-end of an affair that helps the (still-single) heroine realize that Eugene might make a sorry husband after all. Marx, a former SNL writer herself, has a wonderfully understated sense of comic timing; her humor is dry, self-effacing and cynical without being bitter. Anyone who's ever listened to someone else complain about the unreciprocated love of their life will read Marx's debut with an appreciative eye—and undoubtedly laugh out loud.

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