I've met all kinds of interesting people. But there is one claim-to-fame that stands above them all. My friend, Laurie Notaro.
Back in the early 90s, I was working at The Duck and Decanter and every day I had a 30-minute lunch break. I looked forward to the first week of every month so I could read the latest column by Laurie in Java Magazine and Planet Magazine. Laurie was among the first of the first-person humor writers, post-Erma. Her tales of daily life, made me cry with laughter. I became addicted.
A couple years later I got a job at the Republic and I was selected to help launch a weekly entertainment guide. I organized a poetry reading to help promote it and came up with the idea of having a panel of local celebrity judges to critque the contestants (pre-Simon, thank you very much!!). Honestly? I only hatched the plan to give me a legitimate excuse to contact Laurie and meet her. She said yes to being on the panel, and after that she ended up having a weekly column in our entertainment guide, and eventually as a full-time writer on staff too. We lunch everyday together!
It was always her dream to take her collection of essays and compile them into a book. She pitched the concept to dozens of agents and editors and got rejected gobs of times. No one would give her the credit or repsect she deserved. So she took a brand new credit card and self-published The Idiot Girls Action Adventure Club.
The book went up for sale on Amazon, a big-time agent saw it and scored her a six-figure deal with Random House. I know because I was sitting next to her when she got the call. The book was rereleased and landed on the NY times best seller list. She went on to write a series of other books that have done just as well.
Today is the release of Laurie's latest book, There's a (Slight) Chance I Might Be Going to Hell: A Novel of Sewer Pipes, Pageant Queens, and Big Trouble (Paperback). For this one, she told me she was going to write a fiction book. Around this time last year, she wrote an outline, wrote the book in a matter of months and wham! It's on sale today! I expect it will also end up on the best seller list, like her others.
Laurie is an example of knowing you are worthy of something great, and not giving up, even when all the odds are stacked against you. The best part of all of this? Not only can I say: "I knew her when...", but I can also say she is one of my best friends. And I know she will think I'm a total geek for this post, but I don't care. Laurie, I love you. Rock on, girlfriend!
From Publishers WeeklyBuy the book.
Humorist Notaro (The Idiot Girls' Action-Adventure Club, etc.) transitions to fiction with a comic mix of wife lit and smalltown suspense. When Maye Roberts's husband, Charlie, gets a tenure-track job at prestigious Spaulding University, childless, 30-something Maye leaves her tight-knit group of friends and job as a Phoenix reporter to move to the school's eponymous Washington State burg. While Charlie fits in easily, Maye, after a faculty dinner run-in with Dean Spaulding's wife, Rowena, feels lonely and bored. When she learns about the Sewer Pipe Queen pageant, a local tradition that guarantees the winner a town full of friends, she enters with her singing dog, inflaming Rowena further. As tensions thicken, Maye's rather notorious pageant sponsor, Ruby, may hold the key to Rowena's continuing rage and to the decades-old incident that sparked it. Though some of the plot falls flat, Notaro makes Maye's perspective strong enough to hold the story together, and the book is filled with the same winningly acerbic riffs that drive Notaro's popular essays. (June)
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