Housebroken: Admissions of an Untidy Life

Ballantine. Jul. 2016. 288p. ISBN 9781101886083. pap. $17; ebk. ISBN 9781101886090. HUMOR
Notaro, a humorist and novelist (It Looked Different on the Model) recounts her forays into the domestic realm with this latest collection of essays. The topics range from the difficulty of making a perfect homemade Twinkie to the virtues of proper Italian cooking to the vagaries of living next door to neighbors who raise chickens, which attracts mice. Although childless herself, Notaro writes with affection about her relationship with her nephews, schooling them in "some life lessons courtesy of Aunt Laurie," many of which take place at the local Waffle House. Notaro is direct and self-deprecating, and her disastrous attempts to sew a dress and make jerky treats for her dog are relatable and funny, especially to anyone who has failed at "the domestic arts." However, her elbow-in-the-ribs humor quickly becomes stale, if not downright tedious. As well, the book lacks cohesion; the essays, toward the end in particular, have a tossed-off quality, as if the author were in a hurry to finish.
VERDICT Die-hard fans of Notaro will likely enjoy this latest book; new readers may want to dip in and out, as the essays are best consumed in small doses.
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