Iris Smyles Presents Droll Tales, in conversation with Patricia Marx

June 22nd

McNally Jackson Seaport
RSVP Required -- see below

In fourteen witty, surreal, and wildly original interrelated stories, Iris Smyles joyfully interrogates the paradoxes of life and language and gives us a new view of our world.

Welcome to the world of Droll Tales, in which reality is a mutually agreed-upon illusion, and life is painful, enigmatic, beautiful, and brief. With an oddball cast of characters who reappear in various guises, Smyles gives us a tour of an enchanted, absurd, off-kilter world with its own workings and ways of expression--one that overlaps our own.

A young suburban woman runs away to Europe to become a living statue, Mallarm is at long last translated into pig Latin, a house full of surrealists compete for love on a reality TV show, a list of fortune cookie messages reveals the inner world of the young man employed to write them, and a story of love and betrayal is told through the sentence diagrams on a fifth grader's grammar test.

Romantic, dark, and ironic, Droll Tales is a book like none you have read. It is a philosophical vaudeville, a cabinet of curiosities, a puzzle in fourteen pieces, and a tragicomic riddle articulated in Smyles's singular style, with the mystery of the human heart at its center.



We encourage all guests to wear masks on the night. 

Iris Smyles is the author of two previous books of fiction: Iris Has Free Time and Dating Tips for the Unemployed, which was a semi-finalist for the Thurber Prize for American Humor. Her essays and stories have been published by the New Yorker, the New York Times, The Atlantic, Vogue, BOMB, Paris Review Daily, The Baffler, and Best American Travel Writing, among other publications. She divides her time between New York City and Greece.




Patricia Marx, is a New Yorker staff writer, former writer for Saturday Night Live and author of the novels Him Her Him Again the End of Him and Starting from Happy, both Thurber Prize finalists; as well as the nonfiction Let’s Be Less Stupid. She and Roz Chast have collaborated on several books, including Now Everybody Really Hates Me, Meet My Staff, and You Can Only Yell at Me for One Thing at a Time: Rules for Couples. She was the first woman on the Harvard Lampoon, and has received a Guggenheim Fellowship. She can take a baked potato out of the oven with her bare hand.




RSVP Below

In order to keep our events program running in uncertain times, we're asking attendees to hold their place with a $5 voucher, redeemable on the night of the event on any product in store or in our bar & café. You can alternatively reserve a spot by pre-purchasing the event book. If you have a change of heart or plans, write to and we'll gladly refund you and release your spot, up to 24 hours before the event. Thanks for understanding, and for supporting your local bookstore.