Laurie Notaro: Autobiography Of A Fat Bride: True Tales Of A Pretend Adulthood

Laurie Notaro: Autobiography Of A Fat Bride: True Tales Of A Pretend Adulthood

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Autobiography Of A Fat Bride: True Tales Of A Pretend Adulthood

Author: Laurie Notaro
Publisher: Villard

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The popularity of cultural signposts from Cathy Guisewite's Cathy comic strip to the Bridget Jones's Diary books and spin-offs suggest an ongoing, booming market for stories about young women with weight trauma, shopping dependence, nonstop romantic crises, and severe coping issues. Given that the subgenre isn't likely to go away any time soon, it's good to see someone approach it with the surreal wit and over-the-top mentality of Phoenix newspaper columnist Laurie Notaro. In her debut essay collection, The Idiot Girls' Action Adventure Club, she discussed life as a single party girl, in essays like "Men Are Stupid And I Rock!" In the follow-up, Autobiography Of A Fat Bride, she documents her surprisingly quick transition to married domestic woman with "adult" problems. Notaro's humor is self-deprecating, gorily specific, and raunchy: From meeting her husband-to-be while a booger hangs from her nose to panicking over bridal-dress fittings because she never shaves or wears underwear, she has an endless supply of body-issue-themed crude jokes, which she plays up to a mildly histrionic degree. Even her own wedding warrants a column about the massive precautions necessary to guard against crippling cramps, acne, menstrual-blood leakage, or "the Big Poo." She inflates her more external ordeals over taxes, a drug test, an air-conditioner purchase, home repair, and vet bills for a particularly destructive cat (which she secretly urges to "run into the light as fast as you can") into minor cataclysms. But unlike the Bridget Joneses of the world, she doesn't appear to take them seriously, or expect anyone else to. She's the victim of most of her own self-created calamities, but she invites readers to laugh at her self-victimization, as though encouraging them to deal with their own personal lives with more grace and less irrational terror. At the same time, she never acknowledges that self-victimization: By steadfastly remaining the heroine of her own stories, she maintains her dignity and avoids begging for sympathy. Autobiography Of A Fat Bride does venture beyond self-mockery for some slightly kinder looks at Notaro's friends and family, from the nephew she adores to the male friend she gives cruel advice. Autobiography never quite makes it to sentimentality, but it does mix its themes enough to prove that Notaro has more going for her than gross-out humor and sick wit. Like so many writers who play up the woman-on-the-verge-of-a-nervous-breakdown motif, Notaro is likely to appeal to a fairly narrow group of schadenfreude fans, who might empathize as well as sympathize, but are still laughing at her as much as with her. Still, thanks to lively prose and an unusually frank and forward outlook, she makes that both easy and pleasant.

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