How to Stay Married: The Most Insane Love Story Ever Told (Hardcover)
Harrison Scott Key, winner of the Thurber Prize for American Humor, tells the shocking, “shot through with sharp humor” (The Washington Post), spiritually profound story of his journey through hell and back when infidelity threatens his marriage.
One gorgeous autumn day, Harrison discovers that his wife—the sweet, funny, loving mother of their three daughters, a woman “who’s spent just about every Sunday of her life in a church”—is having an affair with a family friend. This revelation propels the hysterical, heartbreaking events in How to Stay Married, casting our narrator onto “the factory floor of hell,” where his wife was now in love with a man who “wears cargo shorts, on purpose.” What will he do? Kick her out? Set fire to all her panties in the yard? Beat this man to death with a gardening implement? Ask God for help in winning her back?
Armed only with a sense of humor and a hunger for the truth, Harrison embarks on a hellish journey into his past, seeking answers to the riddles of faith and forgiveness. Through an absurd series of escalating confessions and betrayals, Harrison reckons with his failure to love his wife in the ways she needed most, resolves to fight for his family, and in a climax almost too ridiculous to be believed, finally learns that love is no joke. “A fiercely memorable account of marital devotion against all odds” (Publishers Weekly, starred review), How to Stay Married is a comic romp unlike any in contemporary literature, a wild ride through the hellscape of marriage and the mysteries of mercy.
About the Author
Harrison Scott Key is the author of The World’s Largest Man, winner of the Thurber Prize for American Humor, and Congratulations, Who Are You, Again?. Harrison’s TEDx talk about the challenges and rewards of creative ambition (“The Funny Thing About the American Dream”) is featured on TED.com, and his humor and nonfiction have appeared in The Best American Travel Writing, Oxford American, Outside, The New York Times, McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, Bitter Southerner, Town & Country, The Mockingbird, Salon, Reader’s Digest, Image, Southern Living, Gulf Coast, Creative Nonfiction, and elsewhere. He has spoken and performed on radio (Snap Judgement, WNYC Studios) and for hundreds of festivals, bookstores, conferences, variety shows, and universities. He lives in Savannah, Georgia.
“I read Harrison Scott Key’s hilarious, raw, bracing, profound memoir How to Stay Married and have been recommending it to everyone I know. Read it! I’ve never read anything else quite like it.” —Eleanor Barkhorn, The Atlantic
“Do I really care about 300 pages on some stranger’s marriage? It turns out I did. . . . There is an energy to How to Stay Married that I haven’t previously experienced in a memoir. . . . Shot through with sharp humor . . . Perhaps the most unexpected chapter is written by Lauren. It’s rare to hear both sides in a memoir about an affair. Lauren’s insights into her own feelings are both surprising and intriguing.” —Jane Smiley, The Washington Post
“In this outstanding memoir about the near-end of his marriage, humorist Key brilliantly recounts the circumstances before, during, and after his wife’s affair with their neighbor. . . . He skillfully intertwines cutting comedy . . . with heart-wrenching musings . . . and explanations of the spiritual impact the experience has on him. . . . Key’s willingness to laugh at himself and share ownership of the couple’s marital issues elevates this. . . . A fiercely memorable account of marital devotion against all odds.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Despite the ‘How to’ of the title, the book is not an advice column. . . . It’s a memoir that tells one story of an unhappy marriage that was authentically saved by grace. . . with an authenticity, vulnerability, and comedy that’s missing in most books on this topic. . . . If I could, I’d give everyone a copy of How to Stay Married. As I was reading it, my husband listened to me laugh aloud and begged to hear what was so funny. I read most of it in one night because the drama kept me flipping pages. When I’d finished the book—after reading at least a third of it aloud to my husband—we both wanted to try marriage counseling. ‘Like a tune-up,’ my husband said.” —Jessica Hooten Wilson, Christianity Today
“An exceptional memoir of a humorist’s attempts to deal with his wife’s infidelity.” —Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“This hilarious and heartbreaking memoir lays the deepest human pain bare and will leave readers breathless and feeling seen.” —Booklist
“What’s a humor writer to do when he discovers his wife and the mother of their three daughters has been unfaithful? He writes a memoir charting the fallout. While he mines plenty of humor from the situation, Key also does a lot of serious soul searching and embarks on a spiritual journey in the process.” —The Atlanta Journal Constitution, “Summer’s Brightest New Beach Reads”
“The humorous memoir details his wife’s infidelity, the nearly total collapse of their marriage and the difficult path they follow in the ensuing years to save it. Readers might reasonably expect Key’s telling of ‘what happened,’ including the crisis of his own Christian faith that arises from the event, to be about as funny as a cancer diagnosis. Readers would be wrong.” —Nashville Scene
Praise for Congratulations, Who Are You Again?:
“Key humorously and tenderly mines his own life to understand why on earth anyone would want to become a writer.” —Garden & Gun
“Key is as wise as he is funny.” —Christian Century
“Consistently funny . . . For all of his biting wit, Key’s love of writing is what shines through. . . . Congratulations, Who Are You Again? will have readers looking for more from this talented author. —Kirkus Reviews
“A keenly observed account of the publishing process . . . Hilarious and illuminating.” —Booklist
Praise for The World’s Largest Man:
Winner of the Thurber Prize for American Humor
“An exceptional memoir.” —New York Journal of Books
“Key’s talent is all his own. . . . Consistently seasoned with laughs, this memoir is adroitly warm and deep when it is called for. An uncommonly entertaining story replete with consistent wit and lethal weaponry.” —Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“[Key has] a comic voice that puts him in the choir with other humorists you may have heard of?such as P.J. O’Rourke, Roy Blount Jr., Garrison Keillor, Lewis Grizzard, Dave Barry and others. Maybe even Mark Twain. The World’s Largest Man is a triumph of a comic memoir.” —Mississippi Business Journal
“Funny as well as tender.” —New York Times
“Both laugh-out-loud funny and observant about the ways we become our parents while asserting ourselves, The World’s Largest Man is a wise delight.” —BookPage
“Smart, funny, and wildly engaging . . . Fans of memoir, personal essays, and humor writing will devour this in one sitting.” —Library Journal