Tig Notaro’s comic lens turns up the focus on the absurd futility of her experience, making it more real and powerful, giving us an understanding that is just as comic as it is tragic. I’m Just a Person is bookended with funny and insightful stories from Notaro’s childhood and discussions of her relationships with her loved ones. But the book’s core is her account of the year her life fell apart ... Despite this book’s subject matter, it does not feel heavy. Like Notaro’s stand-up, it feels effortless. It is Notaro’s brutal honesty and sugarless humor that give the book its lightness ... It’s a rare feat to write so openly about a life like hers without a trace of bitterness and still seem genuine.
I’m Just A Person touches on a lot of the same tragic material that Notaro first shared in Live, the documentary Tig, and her HBO special Boyish Girl Interrupted, in which she first made the distinction that she’s just a person and not a hero for having survived cancer. And yet, this written record of her grief isn’t just a retread. It’s supplemental, yes, but also transcendental—here, Notaro isn’t as concerned with pacing or giving the audience a break from her misery. As a stand-up comic, Notaro is guileless, and here she’s even less concerned with the performance elements of the story. That’s not to say the book isn’t funny—there’s still plenty of levity, but it frequently gives way to important revelations, like Notaro’s realization that, contrary to popular belief, she had been given more than she could handle. Her grief and recovery are in their rawest forms in I’m Just A Person, but so is her hope.
What’s almost as impressive as Notaro’s now-thriving career and personal life is the fact that she’s still finding new ways to approach the same dreadful subject with her deadpan wit. This slim memoir takes an interior view, focusing far more on her thoughts and familial relationships than on her stand-up or fertility struggles, and adding more depth and emotion to an already mind-boggling series of events.
The inside cover should include an advisory warning: This book will break your heart, form lumps in your gut, and trigger uncontrollable sobs ... Powerful as the story is, sometimes the edits are clunky. Some jokes in unnecessary places fall flat ... With this book, she shares her story with an open heart broken and rebuilt several times over. This raw retelling, far removed from her stand-up persona, brings us closer to it.
Humility is a touchstone of Notaro’s voice. She spends little time dwelling on her childhood, except to describe her mother as implication of her loss. Instead, she focuses on the moments within the moments of these harrowing days ... Notaro’s propulsion for truth is clear in the way she descends the murkiest topics ... Tig the Comedian makes plenty of appearances, too. The funniest bits land with heavy hearts, of course. Good wit is often sweet on the outside and barbarous on the inside, like life’s bitter truths.