In New Book, Marcy Dermansky Finds the Fun in Serious Matters

The Montclair author's latest novel, Very Nice, is the perfect summer read. It's also deeply, darkly humorous.

Marcy Dermansky and her new book. Photo courtesy of Michael Lionstar

Above all else, Marcy Dermansky wants to entertain her readers, but also herself.

“Writing that’s fun gets a bad rap,” says the Montclair resident, who admits she sometimes loses interest in a writing project if she’s not amused by it. Dermansky’s latest novel, Very Nice, due July 2 from Knopf, is a serious book disguised as a funny one. Set in what’s recognizable as the post-Obama era, it involves contemporary cultural touchstones: the threat of a school shooting, a messy mother-daughter-professor love triangle, and the complicated world of Manhattan investment banking. But it’s also deeply, darkly humorous.

“I wanted things to be like a soap opera,” says Dermansky. The result is an attention-grabbing narrative featuring many interconnected characters and storylines. It’s a book that demands to be binge-read with as much urgency and obsession as Dermansky wrote it. What started as a short story for the now defunct online feminist newsletter Lenny Letter quickly snowballed into a full manuscript. “I pretty much wrote it after the [2016] election,” she says. “It wouldn’t leave my mind.”

The author of three previous novels, including The Red Car (2016) and Bad Marie (2010), Dermansky traces her Jersey influences to Englewood, where she grew up.

After living and working among her literary peers in New York City for years, Dermansky returned to her home state three years ago, settling in Montclair, where she now lives with her daughter, and where she’s grateful to have found a new, supportive community of writers.

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