Idiot Girl, Interrupted

While the rest of us are roasting on the spit of yet another Phoenix summer, Laurie Notaro will be holed up in air-conditioned comfort, pounding out her fourth collection of humor essays for Random House. Which sounds cool and kind of glamorous, until you ask her about it.

"Oh, God," she groans, clutching her curly head. "Another Phoenix summer would be hell on Earth. But another Phoenix summer where my fourth book is due about a minute before I have to go out on tour to promote my third book . . . Someone just shoot me, please. I'll pay you. I'll buy the gun!"

Laurie Notaro is getting the hell out of Dodge. Phoenix has been good to her, and she'll miss her friends and her sweet little house, but enough is enough.

"It's too damn hot here," she says. "We're leaving."

But first there's the tour to promote that third book, the just-published I Love Everybody (and Other Atrocious Lies): True Tales of a Loudmouth Girl. In it, the author cops to the usual dorky disasters -- at Disneyland, in a sixth-grade classroom, and in a hospital ER room, among other locales -- that have made her famous. The new book also includes essays about Notaro's rise and fall at the Arizona Republic, where her popular weekly column was canceled mere weeks before her first book, The Idiot Girls' Action Adventure Club, hit the New York Times Bestseller List. Idiot Girls has since been optioned by David Letterman's Worldwide Pants production company, and spawned a hit sequel, Autobiography of a Fat Bride (Sample yuk: "Bra burn on a girl with back fat is the furthest thing from attractive.").

It even became one of those saying-a-day calendars.

Thus far, Letterman hasn't turned Notaro's book into a sitcom, but he did send a case of popcorn last Christmas.

"It had a cute little card that said, 'Season's Greetings, David Letterman,'" she recalls. She gave them away to friends until she realized they were collectible. "He designed the box, he designed the popcorn, it's his special thing. . . . I called everyone I'd given a box to and said, 'Don't eat it! Sell it on eBay!'"

Moving to Eugene, Oregon (her husband's going to grad school), means leaving behind her status as a local celebrity author.

"Oh, please," she moans. "I will not miss being a celebrity because I've never been one. I swear. No one looks over at me standing in line at the grocery store and says, 'Oh my God, it's Laurie Notaro!' Every once in a while, some cashier will recognize my name on my credit card, which is bad because then I'm afraid my card will be declined, and everyone will crowd around and laugh at me."

Reminded of her upcoming deadlines and packing chores, she lets out a sigh. "This'll be the worst summer ever," she says. "But the best summer ever, too."

Laurie Notaro kicks off her summer tour at 7 p.m. June 14 at Changing Hands Bookstore, 6428 South McClintock Drive in Tempe. For more information, see

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Robrt L. Pela has been a weekly contributor to Phoenix New Times since 1991, primarily as a cultural critic. His radio essays air on National Public Radio affiliate KJZZ's Morning Edition.
Contact: Robrt L. Pela