Thursday, September 22, 2005

Chicks with an edge…of dork.

We all have that friend (or maybe we’re that friend) that laughs a little too loud, parties a little too hard, and does things that in retrospect are really, really, really stupid. She’s fun, she’s crazy, she snorts when she laughs, and she’s okay with that because she accepts her inner dork (or nerd, or geek, or whatever your word is), and we’re okay with it because we want to be her when we grow up (only without that whole passing out only to wake up in our bra on someone’s front yard part). What makes her so great is that she can laugh at herself, while inviting us to laugh with her—even as we cover our eyes in mock pain.

So here’s to that girl (cue the beer commercial music). And here’s to those of us who wish we could be her, but will settle for reading other people’s personal narratives instead (doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue, does it?).

Bleachy-Haired Honky Bitch: Tales from a Bad Neighborhood by Hollis Gillespie

ISBN: 0060561998 Price: $13.95 (Trade Paperback)

A commentator for NPR, columnist, flight attendant, and bad German translator, Hollis Gillespie has been around—the world and life—and she’s not afraid to tell it like it is. Alternatively funny and poignant, she draws you in with her candid dissection of her life experiences, no matter how painful, embarrassing or down-right screwed up they might be. The perfect book for when you are feeling down or simply looking for a laugh, but you might want to invest in some Depends before cracking the spine.

My take: “She had me at Hellish Gargoyle.”

The Boss and I actually ordered the follow-up to this book, Confessions of a Recovering Slut: and Other Love Stories, first, but I would recommend reading them in order (so you can read the progression to “slut” and “back” again). Gillespie doesn’t hold back—at all, even if you sometimes wish she did—and the result is a character study through moments of how we become who we are. Each entry is a combination of the past and present, sprinkled with pictures (including little headers where she’s making horrible faces) and references to other entries. Screwy lives sure make for good writing (and reading), and I cannot stress enough that you should pick this one up (the Boss and I both loved it, despite the 20 year difference in our ages). And then read it in public, like on the subway, with the cover up so others can see it (if only to watch their reaction, I had a lot of fun at an upper level restaurant with it).

If Hollis sounds a bit too hard core for you, check out:

The Idiot Girls’ Action-Adventure Club: True Tales from a Magnificent and Clumsy Life by Laurie Notaro

ISBN: 0375760911 Price: $12.95

If something slightly (and I mean very slight like “a thin piece of paper” slight) less raunchy would be to your tastes, Laurie Notaro is your girl…or she would be, if she could master that whole “staying on her feet” thing, that whole “human-interaction” thing, and that whole “engaging the tact filter before speaking” thing. But since she has problems with all of these areas, we get to read about her adventures instead. If she were a character in a book we’d groan and call her too stupid to live, but she’s a real person (who’s miraculously still breathing) who realizes that she’s made some mistakes and wants to make us laugh with her. If you are into humor writing at all, this is the book for you.

My take: “Where do I get my Idiot Girl merit badge?”

I read Notaro for the first time a couple of years ago and almost wet myself. I had just gone through a whole David Sedaris kick, and while I adore him, I was looking for a female counterpart. Enter Laurie Notaro. I laughed so hard with her first book that I bought up all that my store had (thank God for employee discounts) and started sending them to my friends. They loved her too (and I don’t think it was just those little airline bottles of alcohol that I sent along talking either). She speaks to that part in all of us that goes “I know this is stupid, but…” and does whatever it is anyway, and then asks later “How did I survive that and where’s my martini?” Let’s face it: no one is perfect and some of us are no where close, Laurie just puts her crimes adventures down on paper for everyone to enjoy. It’s like peek in your favorite, older sister’s journal.

I also recommend her follow-ups:

Autobiography of a Fat Bride: True Tales of a Pretend Adulthood

I Love Everybody (and Other Atrocious Lies): True Tales of a Loudmouth Girl

We Thought You Would Be Prettier: True Tales from the Dorkiest Girl Alive

Sensing a theme?

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