Arizona-based writer Laurie Notaro is, to me, the funniest writer on the planet. I’ve read and laughed my way through four of her other “memoirs” (if you can call them that — I guess they’re really just humorous essays?) and her latest book, The Idiot Girl and the Flaming Tantrum of Death, didn’t disappoint.
What makes Notaro’s books so funny is the fact that she never ceases to find herself in bizarre, alarming and/or humiliating circumstances. A great deal of her jokes center around her neighborhood in Phoenix which, she tells us, boasts a convicted rapist, many homeless people and a pack of wild dogs among its residents. Notaro discusses life in “the ‘hood,” cruise ship capers, embarrassing bodily functions, adopting germaphobia as “a lifestyle” and the pain of trying to sell the Phoenix home she shares with her husband after he’s accepted to grad school in Oregon. Many of Notaro’s gags center around sweating in the desert, so the unexpected change of dry scenery for the lush landscapes of the Pacific Northwest is a little jolting, but Notaro (and her readers) adjust.
For me, there’s something delightfully and frighteningly charming about Laurie Notaro — she’s sort of an “everyman” (or woman) who has achieved success through a combination of hard work, sharp wit and being in the wrong place at the right time. There were passages of Idiot Girl I had to read aloud for my sister and boyfriend — they were too funny not to share, and I knew I would butcher her anecdote if I tried at all to rephrase it. Notaro is truly laugh-out-loud funny, and I’m thrilled she’s returned to her non-fiction roots; her novel There’s A (Slight) Chance I Might Be Going To Hell just plain bored me. I couldn’t even finish it.
If you’ve never come across Notaro, I highly recommend picking up one of her titles. They’re chronological, in a way, starting with The Idiot Girls’ Action-Adventure Club: True Tales from a Magnificent and Clumsy Life. You could grab any of them, though, and fall right into her hilarious stories of dating, marriage and witnessing rude and unacceptable behavior in public. She’s my hero.
4.5 out of 5!