Sunday, April 20, 2008

Patricia Marx/HIM HER HIM AGAIN THE END OF HIM


A (nameless) young American woman struggling with a very prolonged infancy (she UPSes her mother her laundry, for example) finds herself enrolled in a Ph.D. program at Cambridge University, where she spends her time drinking diet iced tea and not writing her thesis. This happy parentally-sponsored cycle is interrupted by an insufferable philosophy graduate named Eugene Obello, with whom the narrator proceeds to become obsessed. The book recounts the ten years following their initial meeting and the various ways he mistreats her (and the various ways she takes it).

I picked up this book (which caught my eye with its bright orange cover) imagining there would be a lot of resonance (no further comment on any personal experiences at British institutions of higher learning). And Marx offers a sad amount of truth about some of the more ludicrous aspects of academia.

The book is definitely a satire, and for this reason I'm not really a good person to be judging it (I've never been a fan of even the most famous satires--CONFEDERACY OF DUNCES and THE LOVED ONE come to mind). HIM HER HIM AGAIN has all the classic elements--utterly unlikable main characters with painful but almost believable ways of upsetting their own natural environments. But I would recommend it to those who do like satires. There are some very funny moments.

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