Revenge of the Idiot Girl

The Republic's ex-Idiot Girl gets her revenge

NT: On the other hand, don't you hate it when people ask, "Did that really happen to you, or did you make it up?"

Notaro: The thing is that I'm the worst fiction writer in the world. I can't make up a story to save my life. I don't even know what a story arc is! People ask my mother, "Did those things really happen to Laurie?" And my mother says, "Oh, she exaggerates to make it funnier." No I don't! I have to be able to say what really happened to me. I can't make this stuff up. Anyway, if there's no truth in it, then it's not funny.

NT: I'm guessing that people get pissed off when you write about them. And when you don't.

Tough cookie: Author Laurie Notaro.
Kevin Scanlon
Tough cookie: Author Laurie Notaro.

Notaro: Well, there are people I know who say stupid things like, "Susan Smith had an abortion, but you can't put that in your column!" Like I'm writing about people's abortions in my column. Get real. Then there's this guy I know who, every time I see him, says, "So, you gonna write about me?" Every five minutes! I want to tell him, "Yeah, if you do something funny, something other people can relate to, maybe." But he never does.

NT: Do you get propositioned more often now that you're a famous writer?

Notaro: Well, I can tell that our waiter totally has the hots for me. Every time I take a sip of tea, he refills my glass. Men are falling all over me. I can't wait to meet Benicio del Toro. He's mine!

NT: Okay, so you write about doing all these loser things, like getting shitfaced and throwing up, and having lousy credit. In your stories, you're always wearing dirty clothes and smelling bad. But you're always very put together and pleasant-smelling when I see you.

Notaro: You're wrong! I'm a total dork. I am! I have not shaved my legs all week; my boots are filthy; and my husband had to throw this dress into the dryer with a Downy sheet before I could wear it because it smells like cat pee. I'm always falling down. Food is always falling out of my mouth. That's just who I am.

NT: Do you really get fired all the time?

Notaro: I cannot remember the last time I was able to quit a job. I've been fired from every single job I've ever had. However, I am going to change that tomorrow, because my column has been canceled by the Republic, and when I asked for a two-week unpaid leave of absence to go on my book tour, they said no. Then they told me that if I stayed, my job would switch from columnist to data entry clerk. I don't know how to do HTML or post Web pages. So tomorrow I'm doing Pat McMahon's TV show, and then I'm going to e-mail my boss and tell them I'm not coming in. Ever.

NT: Then what?

Notaro: The book tour lasts all of August, and then I have to send in my second book, Autobiography of a Fat Bride, which is already written. It's a much better book than my first one. Then I have to start on my third book, which Random House has an option on. The third book I'm calling I Love Everyone, and it's gonna be all about my life in the work force.

NT: Your Republic editors are going to love that. So, tell me the truth: Is having a best seller the perfect revenge?

Notaro: I don't think of it as revenge, but it's an accomplishment that proves a lot of people wrong. Because honestly, ever since I was in college, I've had to prove to people who thought I sucked that I don't suck. Every publication I've worked at, I've had to fight for my stuff. I'm never done proving myself, no matter how big my audience is or how big my book deal is. Maybe now I'll get a break from fighting for a little bit. Maybe just for a little bit I can take it easy and say, "Gimme a break, all right? For maybe 10 minutes, can I have a break? Would that be cool with you?" Because apparently someone out there doesn't think that I suck, and I can prove it. It's in the Sunday New York Times.

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