My fourth book choice for my year of reading was a no
Having already read most of Lauri Notaro’s memoirs, when I saw this paperback novel for only a buck, I was pretty sure it’d be a dollar well-spent.
One long day of can’t-put-it-down reading later I proved myself right.
More importantly, Notaro didn’t disappoint.
I’m happy to share a quick review of There’s a Slight Chance I might Be Going to Hell now, even though I know that some of you (particularly those with small children just old enough to make out H-E-Double-Hockey-Sticks) might have to weed this one out based on the title alone.
No hard feelings. I completely understand.
But for the rest of you...
The first half of Notaro’s first novel read a lot like her non-fiction (and that’s a good thing).
Instead of some unrelatable, stiff character, her storytelling was so fluid that I felt like I was reading a journal, or listening to a friend recounting her own crazy, hilarious adventures.
I am thankful for Notaro’s sake that this story was made up though.
‘Cause while the woman has already bravely shared about many a misadventure in her memoirs (The Idiot Girls Action-Adventure Club, We Thought You Would Be Prettier, Autobiography of a Fat Bride…) …
This book was filled with the kind of mortifying stuff you wouldn’t want to be anybody’s reality.
To help you understand I've come up with a little exercise.
Think about some of Michael Scott’s most cringe-worthy moments on The Office, only mix in some of Meredith’s peculiar brand of disturbing. This will give you a rough picture of what I’m talking about.
To be a bit more specific I'll give you a sneak peak at the kind of funny tales I’m talking about. Just know there's lots more to be laughed at in this witty novel.
At one point the likable main character, Maye, a sober, slightly plump, middle-aged woman, gets stuck in a sweater. One she was trying to remove to reveal a crisp Oxford underneath, while attending her husband's company party. At his boss' house.
Later the heroine's dog, Mickey, attacks a Big Foot-like being that keeps knocking over the porch plants… and then a nosy neighbor notices, then crucifies the main character, for spotting recycling in her trash bin.
Good stuff. Comedically I mean.
But if that doesn't sell you, later the book transitions into a full-on mystery, one involving beauty queens, and town secrets, dog breeders, Pat Benatar, obedience school and more.
I realize this is a pretty particular brand of humor, and it won't be right for everyone.
It's worth noting, though, that for a story about a clutzy, grown woman entering a citywide beauty pageant, I was pleasantly surprised to find her very relatable.
I must admit at this point, however, that I probably related to the main character a little more than an average reader would.
No; I’ve never gotten road rash from a beaded vintage sweater, or lied my way into a vegetarian club.
I’ve also never accidentally entered a witch’s coven, or had dinner with a near stranger that ended up screaming at most of the waitstaff…
I have, however, done time as a “journalist” just like Maye.
And I’m currently a work-from-home transplant to a new city, just like her.
I too am still struggling with not recognizing people at the grocery store, and missing being able to call up friends midday to meet for lunch.
And so, maybe I did enjoy this particular novel even more than expected because of how much I found in common with the character Notaro painted.
Then again, maybe that’s the great thing about all good storytelling.
Anyone can connect with a character so expertly written she feels more like the reader, or a friend or neighbor, than words on a page.
And that's a pretty magical thing.
For those of you following me on this reading journey, thanks for listening to the random ramblings/reviews.
Thanks even more for being silent partners in my attempts to build a better vocabulary, become a more well-rounded person, and finally to learn what all the fuss around Stephen King is about. (I get it now.)
If you're paying close attention you may have noticed this is book four, and that I haven't posted about book three yet.
Fear not though.
That post is written and now patiently waiting for me to photograph the book, 'cause I'm a stickler like that. No stock images if I can help it.
In the meantime I'll leave you with a pep talk I appreciated from There's a Slight Chance I Might Be Going to Hell.
It's what the main character's husband tells her after a particularly tough day.