Friday, March 20, 2009

"I Love Everybody (and Other Atrocious Lies)" by Laurie Notaro

Laurie is married, mortgaged, and now-miraculously-employed in the corporate world, discovering that bosses come in all shapes, sizes, and degrees of mental stability. After maxing out her last good credit card at Banana Republic, she's dressed for success and ready to face the jungle: surviving feral, six-foot-plus Gretchen ("The Three Thousand Faces of Eve") before battling the overbearing, overstuffed (in way-too-small pants) new mom Suzzi, who ruthlessly cancels Laurie's newspaper column and learns that payback can be a bitch. Laurie also explores the backstabbing world of preschoolers at a Halloween party, the X-rated madness of a family trip to Disneyland, and the pressure from her QVC-addicted mother and the rest of the world to reproduce. But while losing more friends to babies than to booze, she realizes there's a plus side: for at least a couple of months, she gets to be the thinner friend. I Love Everybody is Laurie Notaro at her deliciously quirky best. Can a woman prone to what her loved ones might term "meltdowns" (she considers them "Opportunities to Enlighten") put a smile on her face and love everybody? Take a guess.

Yeah, I'm quoting from the back of the book, but it's a very apt description of Notaro's third offering. What the back doesn't tell you is that there are little gems in here that have nothing to do with work or babies - witness the essays about Jerry, the drunken bum/handyman that Laurie hires to do some tree-trimming. I about fell over reading about Jerry's rather unique method of pruning! Also equally entertaining is an entry about something almost all of us can relate to - the ever-rising cost of prescription drugs. Especially when said allergy drug is made over-the-counter, which means that insurance will NOT cover said drug anymore. Notaro and her hubby make a run for the border (the southern one, that is), then feel like criminals trying to get back into the USA with their contraband.

My favorite essay, though, has got to be the title one, "I Love Everybody". Notaro has managed to get her first book published, only to have a rather mean review provided by a reputable reviewer. She decides that in order to garner some good reviews, she is going to have to be nice to people and find the good in them, build up some karma points as it were. Well, you know this is much easier said than done. Things go from mildly irritating to frustrating to much, much worse, and all this on a short shopping trip. Does Laurie love everybody? Are you kidding?!

Doesn't matter - I love her writing and I think you will, too.

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