The XX Factor

DoubleX Book of the Week: “My Boyfriend Wrote a Book About Me”

There’s a fairly familiar script to follow when your boyfriend dumps you: You scream, you cry, you rebound. But what are you supposed to do when he dumps you after four years, then writes a book about your failed relationship in which you get cast as the “fat-assed girlfriend”? Sitcom writer Hilary Winston found out the hard way when her ex made her the villain in his crude, Tucker Max -style novel. She decided to settle the score with her own book, the hilarious new memoir My Boyfriend Wrote a Book About Me . Winston’s affecting stories about accidental hand jobs, cat diabetes, and crying at the Olive Garden prove that the best revenge isn’t living well-it’s writing well about all the great sex you had after breaking up.

The story begins when the author spots her pseudonymously named ex’s book in a shopping mall Barnes & Noble and vows retribution. But what starts off as a tutorial in the fine art of literary revenge quickly turns into a sweet, poignant dating history, as Winston looks back through her teens and twenties to tell her side of the story. From the little boy who slipped her a Garbage Pail Kid love note in the fourth grade to the stranger who took a bath with her at the age of 29, Winston weaves an engaging narrative of her romantic misadventures, hitting just the right balance of cute and crass, tear-jerking and triumphant. Whenever a chapter starts to veer into depressing territory, Winston turns it around with a burst of humor: a brief anecdote about feline acne, a list of her many gay ex-boyfriends, or a TMI primer on “Texas Titty Twisters.” Winston’s guiding philosophy appears to be: If it’s too embarrassing to talk about, publish it. Her brutal, naked honesty is what anchors the book and makes it both so moving and so entertaining.

One of the book’s less lighthearted themes is the difficulty of finding a husband when you’re a successful young woman in Hollywood. For Winston, who has written for a number of network comedies, including NBC’s critically acclaimed Community , professional success has not translated into personal fulfillment. In one disheartening story, a guy she goes on a fun date with leaves after seeing how big her house is. In the end, of course, Winston comes to the Eat, Pray, Love -ish conclusion that she doesn’t need a man to be complete. Anyone who reads her deeply funny memoir will undoubtedly agree with that assessment.