Reviews for My Heart Is an Idiot

Booklist Reviews 2012 August #1
My Heart Is an Idiot is an at-turns hilarious, surprising, and often touching collection of what Rothbart, creator of Found magazine, has learned by being, one imagines, open to go anywhere, do anything, and lend an ear to anyone. That his heart gets more than an honorable mention will come as no surprise after tearing through a couple of these appealing essays, as the author gamely, repeatedly picks up and skips town, bubbling over with loving hopefulness for an endless stream of enchanting females. Among the collection's other main characters are the U.S. itself and its tangle of roads and thoroughfares well worn by Rothbart and, in one of the most forehead-slapping contributions, the hack selling fake literary prizes to writing hopefuls to whom Rothbart anonymously sends bottle after bottle of his own urine. Admittedly a driftless thrill seeker when it comes to falling in love and settling down, Rothbart is simultaneously grounded in midwestern humility, and his style is irresistible in its conversational plainspokenness. A hero for the story, its tellers, and its lovers. Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.

Kirkus Reviews 2012 July #2
A collection of personal essays by a man with a knack for stumbling into alcohol- and lust-fueled predicaments. Rothbart (The Lone Surfer of Montana, Kansas, 2005) is the creator of the fanzine Found Magazine, which features the provocative and poignant notes people leave in coffee shops and on sidewalks. On the evidence of these pieces, his life is similarly haphazard. In "Shade," his pining for a woman who resembles a beloved movie character leads him to a long-distance relationship and a disastrous road trip. In "Tarantula," a one-night stand ends with him in a swimming pool with a dead body. And in "What Are You Wearing?" a random caller becomes a regular phone-sex partner. In small doses, Rothbart's say-yes-to-anything attitude and self-deprecating tone is entertaining and engaging. The best piece, "99 Bottles of Pee on the Wall," tracks his obsession with a scam artist who runs a series of fraudulent literary contests; the slow burn of his outrage--and growing crush on a female author who got taken--is smartly paced, and he's candid about his quixotic pursuit. But taken together, there's an overall pattern to his responses that gives these essays an off-putting, manipulative aspect. Rothbart's proclaimed modesty actually comes packaged in loads of hyperbole--every girl he falls for is the most beautiful girl in the room, every night was the most amazing night ever, every dumb drunken thing was the dumbest, most drunken thing he could have done. Such posturing makes the poignant tone of "New York, New York," about a bus trip he took right after 9/11, feel engineered for emotional effect. And it makes a more serious work of reportage about a man he claims was wrongly convicted for murder less convincing than it should be. Rothbart has admirable wit, but his sensitive-wiseacre persona gets repetitive. Copyright Kirkus 2012 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

Library Journal Reviews 2012 September #1
Rothbart claims he falls in love easily, whether with a pretty woman at the airport or one who randomly calls his hotel room, and that is why his "heart is an idiot." Rothbart (contributor, NPR's This American Life; Found: The Best Lost, Tossed, and Forgotten Items from Around the World) is addicted to new experiences, and these 16 original essays (described on the copyright page as forming a "memoir" of "stories…grounded in truth") document his chance encounters. In "Human Snowball," Rothbart recounts a trip to Buffalo to meet a girlfriend and the diverse group of companions he gathers along the way, including Chinese restaurant owners and a 110-year-old man. In other pieces he details encounters with people on a bus ride to New York City after the 9/11 attacks, a family he meets when he runs out of gas in the desert, and his friendship with Byron Case, a man jailed for murder. VERDICT Rothbart has a good heart. The descriptions of his sexual encounters are graphic, but these essays show a man full of life who does not hesitate to say hello to a stranger.--Joyce Sparrow, Kenneth City, FL (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Publishers Weekly Reviews 2012 July #4

Searching for love, fulfillment, or just the next great adventure, Rothbart, a frequent This American Life contributor and the creator of Found magazine, has crisscrossed America numerous times and always finds, if nothing else, a good story. In his debut essay collection, a hit-and-miss compilation of failed love and harebrained schemes, he ping-pongs between the poignant and the crude, sometimes with little or no segue. The tone is set right away with "Bigger and Deafer," wherein Rothbart details the elaborate childhood pranks he would play on his deaf mother, including intentionally misinterpreting phone calls and yelling, "hey, bitch!" to her back at the top of his lungs. Often Rothbart continues his essays unnecessarily, like SNL skits that run a few beats too long. In both "99 Bottles of Pee on the Wall," about his Howard Hughes-like penchant for urinating in glass bottles while recuperating from an ankle injury coupled with a growing hatred for a series of sham literary contests, and "Shade," the story of his lifelong obsession with a character from the film Gas, Food, Lodging, there's a sense of narrative excess, despite Rothbart's gift for storytelling. The standout is "New York, New York," detailing Rothbart's bus trip from Chicago to Manhattan following 9/11. Striking a balance between gravitas and humor, he adds fresh perspective to a subject that can be overdone. (Sept.)

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