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Thursday Book Review: The Idiot Girl and the Flaming Tantrum of Death, Laurie Notaro

January 21, 2010


The pressure!

Which book to choose for my very first review???

I thought this would be easy:  read a book, write a review, post it on the blog.

Except…I keep thinking back to The Girls, a book I thought was brilliant, but my mom and sister hated.   I feel like I need to pick a really good book to write about so you’ll keep coming back to read my book reviews.  One bad pick and you’ll be heading somewhere else on Thursdays, I just know it.  : )

Unsure of which book to choose, I consulted my Top Ten (Fourteen) List of 2009:

1. The Thirteenth Tale, Diane Setterfield

2. People of the Book, Geraldine Brooks

3. Peony in Love, Lisa See

4. The Bonesetter’s Daughter, Amy Tan

5. American Wife, Curtis Sittenfeld

6. The Hour I First Believed, Wally Lamb

7. Beat the Reaper, Josh Bazell

8. Before You Know Kindness, Chris Bohjalian

9. The Space Between Us, Thrity Umringer

10. The Help, Kathryn Stockett

11. The Idiot Girl and the Flaming Tantrum of Death, Laurie Notaro

12. Geek Love, Katherine Dunn

13. The Queen’s Fool, Philippa Gregory

14. The Ragamuffin Gospel, Brennan Manning

I went through my list, one-by-one.  Which one would you like?   Historical fiction?  The one about the shootings at Columbine? Maybe the one about the killer who is in the witness protection program?  How about the one about the Circus Freaks?  No, definitely not the one about Circus Freaks–that one would probably cause more nightmares. 

To be sure, the list above contains the best-of-the-best of what I read in 2009.  Each book was brilliant in its own way.  The one thing they all had in common is that they were able to take me away to a place that was both unfamiliar and fascinating.  Whether I was reading about the travels of an ancient Jewish book, the intimate relationship between servant and her mistress or learning about the role of ghosts in ancient China, I loved making the journey through each of these books.  Each one is definitely worth the read.

In the end, the decision to go with Laurie Notaro’s The Idiot Girl and the Flaming Tantrum of Death was based on one simple reason:  I adored this book.   While it is true that I tend to gravitate toward books that are heavy, deep and real,  every now and then I need a fun read; a book that will make me laugh.  Reading The Idiot Girl and the Flaming Tantrum of Death was like sharing a visit with a friend who makes you laugh and laugh until you forget to breathe.  I am convinced that Laurie Notaro can make even the most mundane experiences fun to read about.    The strangest things happen to her.  And then she writes about those strange things so we can laugh.

The Idiot Girl and the Flaming Tantrum of Death is Ms. Notaro’s third (and I believe best) non-fiction book.  Like her previous two non-fiction books,  The Idiot Girls’ Action-Adventure Club and True Tales from a Magnificent and Clumsy Life,  Flaming Tantrum is a collection of the seemingly endless bizarre, alarming and/or humiliating experiences Ms. Notaro lives through.   She seems to have no problem letting her readers learn intimate things about her;   she takes us along to her laser hair removal sessions (because at least one of her chins should be stubble-free)  and shares the paranoia she develops after watching a Discovery Health Channel special on tapeworms.  I find myself alternately cringing and laughing during each her stories.  I loved how The Cleveland Plain Dealer described Laurie Notaro, “the freak-magnet of a girlfriend you can’t wait to meet for a drink to hear her latest story.”  Yup.  That about sums it up.

Laurie Notaro’s The Idiot Girl and the Flaming Tantrum of Death is perfect for those of you looking to get caught up in someone else’s ridiculous life for a while.  If my daily mantra is “find the joy,” Ms. Notaro’s should be “find the funny,”  because she is certainly able to laugh at her life.  And so are we.

Happy reading!


5 Comments leave one →
  1. sister friend permalink
    January 22, 2010 12:34 am

    ok. i will be honest. i probably will not read all of these. we don’t have a good track record 🙂 but i do look forward to coming home every night and reading your blog. that counts right? love your joy! xo

    • January 22, 2010 12:48 am

      Girl! I picked this one just for you! You’ll LOVE it–she’s like a female David Sedaris. Try this one!! XO

  2. DOE permalink
    January 22, 2010 3:19 am

    my favorite one also—and Christy, you WILL love this book….it is hilarious and not at all freaky….but skip Geek Love. I know I loaned it to you Vicki but it’s not the book to read when you’re pregnant:)

  3. Mom permalink
    January 24, 2010 4:52 pm

    At last, I’ve been waiting for “The List”. I’m off to make a copy and put it in the bag for reading this year.
    Love you…your first review makes me want to move that book to the top of the list!
    Love and hugs


  1. Finding Out About This Brought Me Extreme Joy! « Vicki’s Blog

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