Review: My Heart Is An Idiot

Reading Davy Rothbart’s My Heart Is An Idiot felt a lot like plopping down at a neighborhood bar and striking up a conversation with a guy who’s done some fun things and spins a great yarn.  Beers are traded, and a perhaps you and he are sucked into another.  Rothbart is a down on his luck salt of the earth who you were lucky to meet.

It’s a con.

Rothbart built that impression using his immense craft as a writer and unflinching bravery as a storyteller.  He structures those yarns like a mathematical proof, pulling the reader along into outlandish situations by presenting each step as part of a natural progression.  That’s how you get from “yeah, I’d fly out to Arizona meet a girl I’ve been chatting with online” to dodging traffic while hauling moose legs off a busy highway.  Nothing seems unusual until you – almost certainly a lesser writer – try to relate the same story.

Beyond that, he’s fearlessly honest.  Another way these aren’t just bar stories is in the way he talks about himself and his world.  His broken and idiotic heart turns up  naked and raw and then slips back away. Again, nothing sticks out, but his beliefs and perspective come out in an instant when in life it might take years to get that close.   He bares these bits in ways that make it feel like it’s part of a rambling story, and drops back into the story before his shaggy-dog momentum flags.

As much as the awe-inspiring writing, I like his perspective.

Strongly recommended.

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