“We’re all friends here,” famed author Laurie Notaro said last night to a giddy crowd of multi-aged women. And I believed her. After reading every one of her books, I do feel like she’s my pal. Laurie made her first trip to Columbus as part of the Thurber House Evenings With Authors series. She read excerpts from her new book Spooky Little Girl, which was released nationwide on Tuesday, and portions of her unnamed forthcoming essay collection.
Laurie’s warmth and easy smile immediately reminded me of Annabeth Gish. She was relaxed, gracious, and lightning-witted. Instead of talking to us, she was confiding in us. We were all in her attic with a towel shoved under the door and a pack of contraband cigarettes. There was only one other time in my life that I got to see a favorite author, so this was big. The flutterings in my stomach quashed those of going to Jeni’s or winning a bagged goldfish at the state fair. “I’m freaking out right now,” I kept whispering to my boyfriend.
You know how they say guests on The Daily Show shouldn’t try to be funny, because their “jokes” will just tank that much more epically against Jon Stewart’s? I think Laurie could pull it off. She gloriously recounted Ambien hazes and familial absurdities. She lamented underappreciated Halloween costumes, such as Anna Nicole Smith in clown makeup, Ann Coulter eating a baby sandwich, and Bette Davis’ character from What Ever Happened To Baby Jane? My boyfriend, who has never read any of Laurie’s books, was the evening’s loudest cackler on more than one occasion.
In person, you see Laurie’s strength and kindness. She respects her fans and believes in the graceful power of serving as sidesplitting neo-feminist. During the question and answer session, she awarded inquirers with homemade tin bookmarks from a baggie in her purse. Each woman prefaced her question wit heartfelt remarks about how Laurie’s books have unequivocally inspired them. I didn’t ask a question or stand in line to have my copy of Spooky Little Girl autographed. Those types of situations make me squirrely and typically result in blushing, sweating, stammering, and sometimes fainting. Instead I took with me Laurie’s mantra about writing. She said that she writes quickly and doesn’t look back, so as not to kill her natural magic with scrupulous rehashing. Now that was some sage advice from a true friend.