JC: You lived in Phoenix for quite sometime and used to write for the Arizona Republic. With Phoenix as the last stop on your 2007 book tour, are you ending it with a bang?
LAURIE NOTARO: Oh, I hope so. Phoenix is always a great stop for me, I fuel up on Restaurant Mexico and Pizzeria Biano and I’m good for another two months or so. Naturally, Phoenix had the best crowds.
JC: Where do you have to go or visit when you come back to Phoenix?
LN: All of my favorite Mexican food places in downtown Phoenix, Sephora, you know, all the essentials. Mainly I spend my time hanging out with my Nana and my family, and if I’m lucky, I get to see some friends that I haven’t seen in a while. I try to spend as much of my time here inside.
JC: What kind of reception has “There’s a (Slight) Chance” had since being published in May?
LN: Great, I’m really happy with it. I loved writing the book, it was a lot of fun for me, and I wanted it to be a lot of fun for readers, too. It was my goal to write a quirky, funny, romp of a book, almost like a 1930’s comedy with Cary Grant and Irene Dunne. I think I did that, I hope I did, anyway, and I hope people will see it as the fun book it’s supposed to be. I just wanted to make people laugh.
JC: The book is extremely funny and I think all Arizonans will appreciate the part when Maye says to the lawn guy, “But I’m from Arizona…a land full of scorpions, black widow spiders, tarantulas, rattlesnakes, plague-infected prairie dogs, and hawks that carry away golden retriever puppies off into the sky. I’m sure if I see a furry woodland creature in my yard, I’ll figure it out.” How do you feel about raccoons now that you’ve lived in Eugene for some time now?
LN: Raccoons can be pretty scary, especially if they do have distemper. After my lawn guy made me aware of the immanent danger of raccoons (that scene in the book was based on a real life thing), I saw one as I was walking down the street in broad daylight–and it scared the hell out of me. At first, I didn’t know what it was; it just seemed like this huge cat. But then it sat up and just stared me down. And I mean down. It would not stop looking at me, and that’s when I figured it would be better to look away and walk very fast, because even though I still get pimples, I like having skin on my face. Apparently, crazy raccoons will peel it right off like a Fruit-Roll Up.
JC: It seems Spaulding, Washington is modeled after Eugene, Oregon. Are the people in Eugene upset about “There’s a (Slight) Chance”?
LN: Oh, no, of course not. Most of them are high, nothing bothers them unless you run out of Pirate’s Booty.
JC: Do people ever criticize you or your books for being too edgy or controversial?
LN: Oh sure, there are plenty of crappy reviews on Amazon. Some people will get it, some people won’t. But I can’t understand that someone will buy a book that has the words “The 12 Step Stinkin’ Drunk Program” on the back of it and then complain that my character drinks too much. Some people like to get mad about things like that, so in a way, they get something out of it regardless.
JC: Can you tell us about your next book? What will it be about? When will it come out?
LN: Next book is a return to the non-fiction essays that I’ve been writing for forever. It will sort of be a non-fiction version of what happened when we moved to Eugene. The town is eccentric and unique and charming. It’s a gold mine for a book. I couldn’t have picked a better place! I see people dressed like wizards, zooming by on unicycles and dirty, nearly naked hippie children every day.
JC: Last question, just for fun, if a scorpion and a raccoon got into an ultimate death match, which would win?
LN: Don’t you really mean if an Arizonan and an Oregonian got in a fight, who would win? Well, they’d probably both be jacked up on meth, so I guess it would depend on who got tired first, and that could take days. There was a guy in Portland who barricaded himself in his meth lab apartment, the police threw seven canisters of tear gas in there and that tweaker still had to have five cops take him down. But, you know, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if there was a tweaker somewhere in Apache Junction that would require six officers of the law to get him cuffed.
And if you’re still not convinced that Notaro would kick Streisand’s ass on the awkward-but-charming-girl-o-meter, just look at the list of other books Notaro has written:
• The Idiot Girls’ Action Adventure Club
• Autobiography of a Fat Bride
• I Love Everybody (And Other Atrocious Lies)
• We Thought You Would Be Prettier
• An Idiot Girls’ Christmas: True Tales From the Top of the Naughty List
8 Out of 10 Sewer Pipe Queens.