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Book excerpt:


Mar 19, 2023
Book excerpt:
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Random House

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Curtis Sittenfeld, the New York Times bestselling author of “American Wife,” “Eligible” and “Rodham,” returns with “Romantic Comedy” (Random House, to be published April 4), about a single comedy writer who swears off looking for love on her late-night TV series, until a good-looking pop star arrives to host the show.  

Read an excerpt below:

“Romantic Comedy” by Curtis Sittenfeld (Hardcover)

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When I reached for my phone first thing one morning and learned that Danny Horst and Annabel Lily were dating, I was furious.

I wasn’t furious because I was in love with Danny Horst or, for that matter, with Annabel Lily. Nor was I furious because two more people in the world had found romantic bliss while I remained mostly single. And I wasn’t furious that I hadn’t heard the news directly from Danny, even though we shared an office. The reason I was furious was that Annabel Lily was a gorgeous, talented, world-famous movie star, and Danny was a schlub. He wasn’t a bad guy, and he, too, was talented. But, for Christ’s sake, he was a TV writer, a comedy writer—he was a male version of me. He was pasty skinned and sleep-deprived and sarcastic. And, perhaps because he was male or perhaps because he was a decade younger than I was, he was a lot less self-consciously people-pleasing and a lot more recklessly crass.

But his foul and annoying ways had, apparently, not precluded Annabel Lily’s interest. She’d been the guest host of The Night Owls three weeks prior, coinciding with the release of her latest film, the fourth in an action franchise in which she played a corrupt FBI agent. She’d delivered the opening monologue while wearing a one-shouldered black satin cocktail dress with a thigh slit, highlighting her slender yet curvy body; her long red hair had been styled into old Hollywood waves. Annabel was beautiful and sweet and charming, and if she didn’t have the best comic timing, she was completely game, which was just as important.

I might have been able to forgive them both except that theirs was the third such pairing that had occurred at TNO in the last few years, and, as anyone knows who’s ever written a joke—or heard a fairy tale, or read an article in the style section of a newspaper—there’s a rule of three. In this case, it constituted the trend of a romance between a bona fide celebrity and a TNO staffer who’d met on the show. But, crucially, a bona fide female celebrity and a male staffer. The year before, at a wedding I’d attended, an icy blond Oscar-winning British actress named Imogen Wagner had married a cast member named Josh Beekman, best known for his recurring character Backne Guy.

And the year before that, the head writer, Elliot Markovitz (five-foot-eight, forty, and my Top-Sider-wearing boss), had married a multi-platinum-album-selling pop singer named Nicola Dornan (five-foot-ten, thirty, and a special envoy for the U.N.). And this, of course, was the essence of my fury: that such couples would never exist with the genders switched, that a gorgeous male celebrity would never fall in love with an ordinary, dorky, unkempt woman. Never. No matter how clever she was.

But I also knew, as I lay in bed glaring at the screen of my phone—Danny and Annabel’s debut as a couple had occurred the night before, in the form of making out at the club where Annabel’s twenty-fourth birthday party had been held—that I would write about my fury. Just as I always did, I’d turn my feelings into comedy, and that was how I’d cure myself.

Excerpt from “Romantic Comedy” by Curtis Sittenfeld, copyright © 2023 by Curtis Sittenfeld. Used by permission of Random House, an imprint of Random House Group, a division of Penguin Random House, LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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“Romantic Comedy” by Curtis Sittenfeld (Hardcover)

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