Laurie Notaro’s background is in journalism. Her first book, The Idiot Girls’ Action-Adventure Club, was a collection of columns originally written for an Arizona newspaper. Autobiography of a Fat Bride, her second book, continues in that same vein, with a collection of short essays. They focus mainly on meeting and marrying her husband, and their first few years of marriage. I can’t help but compare it to another one of her books, a later one, The Idiot Girl and the Flaming Tantrum of Death, which I read and reviewed last week, and which now, in hindsight, is nowhere near as good as this, and not even close to being as funny.
Notaro shines in this short essay format, which forces her to be succinct. She also focuses more on her family in this one (and in her earlier works in general), and there’s a lot of humor to be mined there. In her later books, she’s more expansive, with much less written about her family (possibly at their request?) and an annoying tendency toward run-on sentences. In The Flaming Tantrum of Death, I laughed out loud at exactly one story. In Fat Bride, I found myself laughing out loud numerous times, smiling throughout, and generally just enjoying it a hell of a lot more.
I don’t think I could narrow down my favorite essays here–possibly the one where she and her husband discover that her “craft toothbrush,” which she uses for things as diverse as removing stains from clothing, scrubbing paint off a cabinet, and removing dog poop from the soles of her shoes, is also the toothbrush her husband was using to brush his teeth every day. Maybe the one where she tripped and sprained two of her fingers in the fall, or the one where she takes her dogs outside to play catch. Honestly there are quite a few gems in here (a few duds, too, but that’s to be expected with any humor book). This is a quick read, and a fairly good one. If you do check it out, don’t miss the About the Author page–the first time I read it I honestly laughed til I cried.