Monday, August 21, 2006

Review: Diary of an Emotional Idiot

Maggie Estep. Diary of an Emotional Idiot
Published by Soft Skull Press
Reviewed by Sally Fildes-Moss

On the back cover, Rick Moody declares that Diary of an Emotional Idiot “should infuriate nine out of ten lovers of heartfelt, carefully wrought novels about rural life.” I was prepared to hate the book, and expected an exercise in studied slacker chic, along with spurious defiance which would try too hard not to try too hard. But Diary of an Emotional Idiot is not that. It’s a quality write.

It’s all about the screwy beginnings, screwings, scorings and purgings in protagonist Zoe’s sizeable back-catalogue of self-sabotage. But Zoe is no idiot after all, not if emotional intelligence is proportionate to the size of the truth you can tell. And while the narrative style is always casual, and ripe with humour and arresting imagery, precision and pace are not compromised. There is barely a false note in 180 pages and I found myself developing crushes on the best lines.

Diary of an Emotional Idiot turns out to be a heartfelt, carefully wrought novel about human nature.

Sally Fildes-Moss has worked as a teacher, trainer, recycler and peace librarian, and is currently pondering what to do next.

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