Live Reading, Patricia Marx

At Powell’s on Hawthorne last night, Patricia Marx read from her national bestseller, newly released in paperback, “Him Her Him Again the End of Him.” In addition to reading from and talking about the book, Patricia talked about her experiences writing for Saturday Night Live, Rugrats, and the New Yorker. The small audience of about twenty readers, warmly bundled for the freezing windchill outside, enjoyed the reading, sitting on folding chairs, in the small open space between the music and crime sections. 

Patricia did not read from notes, speaking discursively, in a style suggesting someone thinking aloud. She lacked confidence in her reading – or feigned this – at one point trying to play a recording of the book, but unfamiliarity with a new stereo dashed the plan, and she returned to reading with her own voice. But the audience preferred the author’s own even if perhaps poor voice to a recording; that’s why the readers came. 

In part from audience prompts, she mentioned advice she found useful for her writing. Paraphrased in the bullets below, the advice seems to inform her approach to writing: 

1.      Write a book only you can write;

2.      Surprise your reader;

3.      Don’t waste words;

4.      Write and go (she doesn’t work from an outline). 

Against this reasonable, practical advice, she said she wrote the book nights, over a period of approximately a year and a half. She came across as a working writer, a non-academic – though she was one of the first women on the staff of the Harvard Lampoon. Awakening to the opportunity to attend a live reading by a working writer in a small group setting is really the reason for this post.

Here’s the link to the Powell’s calendar.


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