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.From Kirkus Reviews:
MTV's favorite performance artist, a self-styled rebel poet, now commits herself to print in this utterly conventional, at times semi-literate, narrative: an episodic tale of romance in the East Village, with interspersed memories of a screwed-up childhood. Zoe, the posturing narrator of this ``document of Emotional Idiocy,'' is a young woman much like the author: She plays bass guitar, writes porn novels for money, and saves her true self for poetry. She also works part-time as a receptionist in an S&M dungeon, which is perhaps where she learns to be so blas‚ about sextalk. Zoe's ``emotional idiocy'' no doubt results from her dysfunctional past. Her parents divorced early on, and she grew up in places as varied as Colorado and France. Later, she joined her itinerant father as he bummed from job to job as a horse-stable manager. Eventually, though, she ends up living in a New York tenement, where her neighbors include hookers, junkies, strippers, a Heavy Metal guy, a Hefty Lesbian, Japanese fashion students, and a superintendent with an unusually long penis. She and her best friends join together to form Idiots Anonymous, a group with membership restricted to ``dope fiends, sex addicts, or thieves.'' Such is the cool world of la vie bohŠme: Zoe herself studies Burroughs's Junkie, makes the obligatory pilgrimage to Morocco, becomes a ``shaky junkie chick,'' and then detoxs and rehabs. Her desultory sex life includes lots of bad guys, masturbation, and some obligatory lesbianism. In the narrative's present time, she's keeping vigil in the closet of her latest ex, a.k.a. ``Satan.'' Poetical outbursts (e.g., she's ``scrubbing the metaphoric toilets of love'') only add to the pretentious claptrap here. Heroin chic, S&M chic, ``the arts'' as a lifestyle choice--all sound like a great idea for a Broadway musical, if only Jonathan ``Rent'' Larsen hadn't gotten there first. (Author tour) -- Copyright ©1997, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.
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