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My Heart Is an Idiot: Essays Hardcover – September 4, 2012
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Amazon Best Books of the Month, September 2012: Following your heart can get you in a lot of trouble. This is true for no one more than Davy Rothbart, whose hilarious new essay collection is loosely built on the premise that he falls in love much too easily. But Rothbart's desire to impress his crushes is often just a starting place for a much wilder story. One involves rallying a group of strangers for the best Valentine's Day ever; in another, he finds a dead body in a swimming pool. (My favorite piece involves Rothbart's attempt to seek revenge on a scam artist by dumping urine on his head.) But none of these hilarious reflections would work if Rothbart didn't show such a clear sense of self-awareness. As a character, he's likable, shortsighted, and earnest; as a writer, he is a shrewd storyteller with a deep empathy for all the eccentric people he meets. Given his credentials--as a creator of Found Magazine and a contributor to This American Life--it's no surprise that Rothbart is so attuned to the world around him. Now if only his heart were as perceptive. --Kevin Nguyen
“THIS BOOK IS F---ING GREAT! Nobody writes quite like Davy Rothbart, because nobody lives quite like Davy Rothbart--a true and funny ragged-hearted seeker of ecstasy, mystery, and human connection. My Heart Is an Idiot contains some of the most perfect and heartbreaking writing that I have ever read.” ―Elizabeth Gilbert
“Welcome to the newly remodeled Heartbreak Hotel, where Davy Rothbart is concierge. He'll also unpack your underwear, restock your minibar, and do stand-up comedy in the lounge.” ―Tom Robbins
“In Davy Rothbart's essays on heartache, mad love, the low life, and the high life, everybody is fascinating; everybody has something to say. The sentences speed you along down one narrative highway after another, and your tour guide is smart and funny and a real democrat: he has a sweet-tempered openness to experience that wins you over. This book breathes new life back into the personal essay, and these essays are a trip. Take that trip.” ―Charles Baxter
“Tender, cool, funny, and utterly engaging, Davy Rothbart writes with a kind of warmth and cockeyed energy that make you love him. This book is marvelous.” ―Susan Orlean
“An intriguing hybrid of timeless Midwestern warmth and newfangled jive talk.” ―Sarah Vowell
“Davy Rothbart has the humor and purity of heart you want and need in an observer of contemporary American life. Without guile and with a belief in small towns, underdogs, love at first sight, the pull of the road, and the soulfulness of strangers, Rothbart is a kind of new-styled Bill Moyers--genuine, wide-eyed, and hopeful.” ―Dave Eggers
“I believe in Davy. He's a force to be reckoned with.” ―Ira Glass
“Davy's as real as it gets. This is a badass book.” ―Kid Rock
“Davy's my kind of storyteller--honest, hilarious, deeply feeling, and slightly cracked. This is the fresh voice we've been looking for.” ―Jim Carroll, author of The Basketball Diaries
“Davy writes with his whole heart. These stories are crushing.” ―Arthur Miller on The Lone Surfer of Montana, Kansas
“It's always exciting to discover a talented new writer. Davy writes with such energy, wit, and heart.” ―Judy Blume on The Lone Surfer of Montana, Kansas
“Like Kerouac's best novels, these stories are breezy and energetic dispatches from obscure corners of the country... Rothbart mines his material to heartbreaking effect.” ―The Washington Post on The Lone Surfer of Montana, Kansas
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“Bigger and Deafer” – When it comes to making fun of people with disabilities, the appropriate response is no. Always no. But then I like to think I have more than two cents to rub together.
“Human Snowball” – If you want to read about a bus ride and a botched encounter with Lauren Hill (not the Lauryn Hill), then you’ll probably want to give this story a go. On a side note, Vernon adds a bit of comedic relief.
“What Are You Wearing?” – If you want a checklist in how not to conduct phone sex, and when to probably pass on picking up the motel phone, you’ll find your answers here. If you’re still confused when you reach the end, you might want to start from the beginning all over again.
“The 8th of November” – How Jim Thompson, arguably the best Ford mechanic in the Beltway, developed a friendship with the author with the idiot heart.
“Ninety-Nine Bottles of Pee on the Wall” – Meeting an author can be a pleasurable experience (most of the time) unless you’re Davy Rothbart and you carry around a few bottles of pee in your backpack. Which leads to a whole new set of problems and more than a few therapy sessions.
“How I Got These Boots” – A pair of boots, the Grand Canyon, and more than a few memories. What more could you ask for?
“Shade” – Sometimes you need to do a bit of searching to find a shady spot in New Mexico, and the author certainly had more than a bit of trouble with this as well. If it wasn’t for bad luck, a missed opportunity with Maggie, and a fruitless search for the mysterious Shade—the person, not the spot allotted tree cover—this one might have had a positive outcome. Sadly, though, he’s striking out more often than a power hitter with a swing flaw.
“Nibble, Lick, Suck, and Feast” – If you want to discover a bit of hilarity on an author tour, this story’s for you. If not, then we’ll move right along.
“Canada or Bust” – Missy, another female name that begins with M, and thus we have yet another missed opportunity in the love quest. If you need to improve the dating pool, there’s always San Francisco.
“Naked in New York” – How does one end up naked on a park bench? Apparently it’s not all that hard to do, and certainly not in “The Big Apple.” Read this tale for a few pointers.
“Tarantula” – Don’t have sex anywhere near a tarantula. Even if it’s in a glass cage and it’s far away from the bed. I don’t care how good she looks (the woman, not the tarantula), or whether or not she kidnaps you and tosses you in the back of the trunk, and promises to rock your world for the next sixteen days. Just…don’t. You’ll thank me later.
“Southwest” – Davy Rothbart may be blessed when it comes to sitting next to beautiful women on airplanes, but he probably needs a bit of help with his delivery and follow through. But that seems to repeat a bit too regularly over the course of these essays.
“New York, New York” – Maggie Smith knows how to strike a pose; the Twin Towers ended up in a pile of rubble; a few interviews got off to a glitch filled start; the bus ride proved longer than planned; and never say no to a woman named Laquisha.
“Tessa” – Drexel University and beer pong sound reasonably appealing, until Tessa proves a little free with her favors with another man, and you’re left shedding a few tears in your beer. There’s no crying in baseball, but I guess there is in beer pong.
“The Strongest Man in the World” – Peter, Byron, Evelyn, and Davy sitting in a tree, recounting a few stories, or maybe it’s three. Tell a few tales, but don’t pass the buck. If you’re not too careful, you might be out of luck.
“Ain’t That America?” – The moral of this story: You can strike out in love on more than one continent. Just keep that in mind the next time you’re moaning and groaning in your cup of tea.
So, in summary, there’s much to enjoy here. If you’re the kind of Joe who likes to watch a train derailment or two, or you’re one of those rubberneckers on the interstate trying to see the extent of the damage, you’ve just discovered your new source of enjoyment for the day. Just be thankful it’s not your life, and hope to heck you have a bit more luck in the relationship arena, otherwise you might want a Prozac or a Xanax.
Author of Falling Immortality: Casey Holden, Private Investigator