The Idiot Girl and the Flaming Tantrum of Death, by Laurie Notaro (2 May — 4 May)

I saw this book in a library display along with several other collected essay books. It was really the title (and its subtitle, Reflections on Revenge, Germophobia, and Laser Hair Removal) that sold me. Flaming tantrums of death? I’m in!

On the whole, I thought the collection was pretty good. There are some super-funny stories, like the one in which Notaro gets flipped off by hippies and decides to turn around and tailgate them in her Prius. There are some super-affecting stories, like the one in which her beloved dog suddenly falls ill. Most are entertaining; a couple of them fell flat for me.

But seriously, Laurie Notaro, you need to get yourself a better editor. I get that the stories are meant to be conversational in tone, but the beauty of writing is that you can take those tongue-tied, baffling moments and fix them to be understandable. There were so many misplaced modifiers and commas in weird places and just generally unintelligible sentences that I lost all sense of the story more than a few times.

I also felt a bit put off by Notaro’s attitudes in general, but that’s probably more about me than about her. She’s the kind of person who would bother to get laser hair removal; I am not. She’s a huge germophobe; I follow the 90-second rule. I couldn’t really get a few of the stories because of this, but I’m sure there are others out there who would totally understand her.

Rating: 6/10
(Support Your Local Library Challenge)

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