I thought I liked collections of stories, essayist, etc. Oh my god, was I wrong. Laurie Notaro has spoiIed me. I almost couldn’t wait to finish this book, so that I could blog about it.
The book starts off explaining that her family and friends convinced her to write it because she always tells the funniest stories about her life, and they were sure it would make a great book. I too, have been told this – and my response is always “just because my stories are funny doesn’t mean they would translate well to the written page. Or even that I am good enough to write them.” Oprah has convinced me to start writing some personal essays, but after this book – it’s gonna take a lot more than Oprah to build me up again.
Essentially, it’s a collection of stories. Some lowlights:
- She does that goddamn proper noun thing. No one has a name, they have some sort of Adjective. Her girlfriend isn’t “Suzie” or whatever, or even “my girlfriend” – she is “My Beloved.” Her sister’s aren’t”my younger sisters” but instead – (get this!) “The UnWee” and “The Most Wee.” She is “The Least Wee.” Her girlfriend’s adult daughter is referred to as “the girlchild.” I suppose she thinks this is cute.
- We know she thinks this is cute, because it is a collection of stories, but apparently – there was no editor. She explains her ohsocute naming convention again and again, in each story.
- There are at least TWO whole “stories” that are told from the POV of her cat.
- She believes that in her cat’s rich inner life, she is called “Mommy.”
- The stories are interspersed with poetry. I didn’t read any of it because A ) I don’t really love poetry B) It had no context and C ) What a pretentious nutcase!
And, was all was said and done – there was a note in the back that this book was originally self-published and only intended for family and friends. I can’t imagine who thought it shouldn’t stay that way.
I am a little torn on this book. I really liked it and the recollections of camp were both painful to read, heartbreakingly funny and inspiring. What kind of ruined the book for me was the author’s tying it back to her current struggle with weight, and not just that it was unresolved (those of us with weight issues know it will never be “resolved”) but just how bitter she sounded. I don’t know – it was kind of like a coffee stain on an otherwise engaging read.
I don’t know why, but I was excited to read this book – I even had to wait for it from the library so that all the other octogenarians could read it first. I don’t think I’ve ever even watched a Barbara Walters interview, but the book got great reviews.
I really liked it. I don’t think I realized how in depth and important her non-celebrity interviews were, or how hard it really was to be the “first woman” anything. Also, the general theme of her story is “guilt.” Guilt about her retarded sister, her father’s career and suicide attempts, her mother’s depression, her three failed marriages, her daughter’s teenage rebellion – just … guilt.
Anyway, curl up with some Metamucil in a good sturdy chair and enjoy this book. I am going to go see if I can find some of her older interviews on YouTube.
Wow. This book was everything I had previously wanted but couldn’t find. I ordered it from the library when I was on my polygamy kick, but it just came in. Jessop has been in the news lately as the first polygamist woman to win full custody of her kids, and really – the whole thing is amazing. These “bullet points” have been working for me, so …
- Unusual, because while they sometimes face poverty – the family is actually pretty wealthy, so you get a different dimension to the story.
- A real sub-plot is present, which is the apparently real love between her husband and his tyrannical, abusive 3rd wife. Definitely makes you want to know more, which we never will.
- It’s all very raw. All of this stuff JUST happened to her and she doesn’t really sugarcoat anything, or have the lens of time to heal her wounds.
- She escaped with her 8 kids, in the dead of night. One of them is severely handicapped.
- Her daughter made the escape a hell, since she was convinced (along with the other kids) that mom was bringing them all to eternal damnation. At age 18, she rejoined FLDS.
- Interesting, because her family was very powerful and directly related to Warren Jeffs. Just nice to be able to tie it all in the current events – in which she served as witness (but they don’t really go into that too much).
- The abuse is just overwhelming. Physical, emotional and on all sides. The power struggles between sister-wives, the kids – it’s just horrifying.
Definitely the best book I have read on the subject and probably the last one, for awhile. This fulfilled my macabre need.