Bestselling author and former Phoenix-area journalist Laurie Notaro is back in the Valley of the Sun. No, she didn't pack up the U-Haul and move here for good (though the idea isn't completely off the table.)
Notaro will make appearances this week at Changing Hands Bookstore and the Desert Ridge Barnes & Noble to introduce her new collection of humorous stories, It Looked Different on the Model: Epic Tales of Impending Shame and Infamy.
Like her earlier nonfiction works, this one's filled with self-deprecating humor and tales we can all relate to, including those of late-night, Ambien-fueled eating binges and a tight top that wouldn't come off in the dressing room.
We caught up with the humble humorist this weekend and she dished about veganism, free-range boobs, and the all-true stories she decided to include in her latest work.
So how has your family reacted to the new book?
I gave the book to my mom last night and she wasn't happy. I don't even think she's going to read it. She said, "If I'm going to write a book, it's going to be called, 'Laurie Lies.'" I told her, "You know the deal. If you want me to stop writing about you, you just have to shut up." But she just can't do that. I'm glad, because I think she's so funny.
Is everything you write in your nonfiction works really true?
Yes! My sister was reading a chapter to my nephews and they were cracking up because they remember all of this stuff. So I have witnesses. I can back it all up, which is a beautiful thing.
So, you really have written unintelligible e-mails and binged out on cupcakes while taking the drug Ambien?
Yes! It was kind of the Ambien initiation, like being hazed into a fraternity. Like you had to survive this perfect revelation of yourself, and if you could stick through that you could continue on with Ambien and it wouldn't bother you.
Are there any true stories that are off-limits, that you won't share publicly?
Earlier, before the books and even when I was writing some of them, I was really brave about the subject matter that I tackled, and I would be more cautious now. There are things that I can't write about. My in-laws are completely off-limits. I have to sit down with them at Christmas, and I'd rather it be an enjoyable experience for everyone. My family is different because, as I told my mother last night, "you have to love me no matter what." She disagreed.
In your new book, you tell a story about a woman who took out her boob at a party. What was up with that? Where was the baby?
I saw the baby when I first came in the house and that was it. The boob was out there for fifteen minutes! I'm not the only one who noticed that. The boob was out for so long that the sun went down and I probably went home and went to sleep before the baby showed up. Finally, I confronted my friends about it a few weeks ago. I asked everyone, "Was I the only the one who said anything about the boob?" My friend said, "Oh, no. I saw the boob. I just chose not to act on it."
I never want to be that close to anyone else's boob. Ever! I can barely handle that kind of reflection in the mirror, much less from someone whose name I don't even know.
Wow. Is public indecency and other bizarre behavior normal for the people up there in Eugene?
If you stand still for five seconds, someone's going to run you over with a unicycle or trip you on stilts. Then again, there are weird people in Phoenix, too. I lived in the same neighborhood as a lady who has like 500 cats.
I don't want to give anyone the wrong idea. The people are generally super nice. You could spend an hour at a one-way stop sign, because everyone's trying to be nice and let the other people go in front of them.
What, if anything, do you miss about Phoenix?
I really miss my family, and my husband's family is here too. I love Phoenix. I don't love the 107 degrees, though. My kidneys are already the size of raisins and I'm shedding like a snake. My skin turned white and started to flake off already, and I've only been in town for like five hours.
I also miss Mexican food so much; I'm hitting every Mexican place I can before I go back to Eugene.
Every tortilla comes out of a bag. And for some unknown reason, everyone wants to put tofu on everything. If you stand still long enough, they will just stuff you with tofu or Tofurky or soysage; all of the shit crap vegan stuff that I have to deal with up there.
Fess up. Have you ever eaten or made vegan meals?
The Thanksgiving before last, I had to make not only vegetarian options, but vegan, gluten-free and lactose-free options. That was like the Olympics of Thanksgiving.
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Are there any humiliating tales that didn't make it into It Looked Different on the Model...?
Yes, it's called my next book. I have 70 ideas already ... the book is tentatively supposed to come out next May. This book is going to be different. The episodes are going to be much shorter and categorized. It's a lot of the incidents that are really terrible, but really funny, and too short to make it into the other books. It's almost like a life lesson book. Like I wanted my disasters to be warnings to others.