The novel tells the story of Zoey, a smut writer and receptionist at a dungeon in New York City. She is a self-described "emotional idiot." The chapters alternate between her life as a child, growing up with a father who was shattered in a parachuting accident turned horse trainer, and her life as an adult, where she writes smut and answers the phone for dominatrixes because she only possesses "a touch of sadism."
The book cycles between different examples of sex and addiction. Zoey relates her representations of sex as a Catholic school-girl to her career as a pornographer. Her first kiss at age twelve, sweaty and struggling on the floor of a school bus on the return trip from summer camp, is a precursor to her messy, chaotic relationships with men as an adult.
The novel never dips into the saccharine realm of compassion or redemption. Instead Estep portrays "emotional idiots" with deadpan honesty. Estep strips her characters of all defenses, so that by the end of the novel, the reader finds that they have been stripped as well.
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A slyly constructed semi-autobiographical story about a young woman skirting the edge of the '90s, dealing with relationships, her less-than-perfect past, and artistic angst, Diary of an Emotional Idiot is edgy and entertaining--a mesmerizing story of the more surreal aspects of day-to-day living on country back roads and Manhattan's East Village. 192 pp. Author tour. National media & online publicity. 30,000 print.
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