With titles to her credit like Autobiography of a Fat Bride, We Thought You Would Be Prettier, and The Idiot Girls' Action-Adventure Club, it should not surprise us that Laurie Notaro would find ever-new ways to take embarrassment to dizzying new levels. It Looks Different on the Model, her first collection in four years, shows that freak-magnet fame has not armored this veteran humor columnist with self-assurance. The book's revelations include a butter-laden feast for vegan children; a post-office scandal; and apocalyptic email messages from her mother. One paperback original you won't regret.
Trying to fit in—sometimes literally—can be daunting, but Notaro's attempts are hilariously captured in this collection. In "Let It Bleed," Notaro (Spooky Little Girl) takes on the bane of women everywhere: trying on clothes in a dressing room, with lighting ranges from "cruel" to "barbaric." In "She's a Pill," it's not a physical hurdle Notaro must overcome but a mental one: her alter ago, "Ambien Laurie," who emerges when Notaro takes the sleeping pill that can cause people to act strangely in their sleep—Notaro binges on junk food like a zombie and watches dreadful movies. Her relationship with her staunchly Republican parents, who live in Phoenix, Ariz., and are still dismayed that Notaro moved to Eugene, Ore., is most notably described in "It's a Bomb," when she flies in for her mother's birthday. Notaro regresses to rebellious daughter and her parents to their old overbearing selves, complete with Notaro's obsessively clean mother telling her, "f you're going to shed , pick it up. Hair makes me gag." Notaro's humor is self-deprecating without ever swaying into self-pity, and her situations are both specific and universal. (July)
Praise for Laurie Notaro
“Laurie Notaro is absolutely hilarious. You never see the jokes coming. They’re always organic to her writing, and it makes her a joy to read.”—Justin Halpern, author of Sh*t My Dad Says
“If her books don’t inspire pants-wetting fits of laughter, then please consult your physician, because, clearly, your funny bone is broken.”—Jen Lancaster, author of Pretty in Plaid
“Whenever I pick up a book by Laurie Notaro, I know I’ll be in a good mood soon. Because Laurie Notaro makes me laugh. Period.”—Meg Cabot, author of The Princess Diaries and Overbite
“Hilarious, fabulously improper, and completely relatable, Notaro is the queen of funny.”—Celia Rivenbark, author of Bless Your Heart, Tramp
Former humor columnist Notaro (Spooky Little Girl, 2010, etc.) gathers observations on the odds and ends of her transplanted life in a series of quirky domestic vignettes.
Some pieces focus on the trials and tribulations of being the author. These include falling tragically in love with a shirt for which she was "the wrong size, wrong age, and had the wrong wallet"; living with a pill-popping alter ego named "Ambien Laurie" who would ritually—and, unbeknownst to the waking Laurie—gorge on snack foods and go on midnight online shoe-shopping binges; and dealing with a frank dislike of being hugged or touched.Other stories focus on the foibles of her equally neurotic family. In one, Notaro pokes fun at her mother's e-mail forwards that"in e-mail code mean[t] 'Forecasting World Destruction'." In another essay, the author describes how in her mother and father's cheerfully dysfunctional home, parents are parents, children are children and no one is safe from character assault. A few pieces more directly deal with Notaro's attempts at coming to terms with Eugene, Ore., her new home, a city she sees as overrun by hippies, swingers, vegans and justice-seeking plant fairies who, "in the dead of night...delicately placed to deep green shrubs with brilliant red berries on either side of [her] door" to make up for the loss of two azaleas stolen by unrepentant tree thieves. Though clearly intended as funny, the book elicits only occasional laughter for the odd twists and turns the stories tend to take rather than for the actual subject matter.
An uneven collection hampered by forced humor and a lack of cohesion.