Former humor columnist Notaro (Spooky Little Girl, 2010, etc.) gathers observations on the odds and ends of her transplanted life in a series of quirky domestic vignettes.
Some pieces focus on the trials and tribulations of being the author. These include falling tragically in love with a shirt for which she was “the wrong size, wrong age, and had the wrong wallet”; living with a pill-popping alter ego named “Ambien Laurie” who would ritually—and, unbeknownst to the waking Laurie—gorge on snack foods and go on midnight online shoe-shopping binges; and dealing with a frank dislike of being hugged or touched. Other stories focus on the foibles of her equally neurotic family. In one, Notaro pokes fun at her mother’s e-mail forwards that “in e-mail code mean[t] ‘Forecasting World Destruction’.” In another essay, the author describes how in her mother and father’s cheerfully dysfunctional home, parents are parents, children are children and no one is safe from character assault. A few pieces more directly deal with Notaro’s attempts at coming to terms with Eugene, Ore., her new home, a city she sees as overrun by hippies, swingers, vegans and justice-seeking plant fairies who, “in the dead of night…delicately placed to deep green shrubs with brilliant red berries on either side of [her] door” to make up for the loss of two azaleas stolen by unrepentant tree thieves. Though clearly intended as funny, the book elicits only occasional laughter for the odd twists and turns the stories tend to take rather than for the actual subject matter.An uneven collection hampered by forced humor and a lack of cohesion.