narfna’s #CBR Review #41: Let’s Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson
I pre-ordered this book at Amazon as soon as I heard about it. I’ve been reading The Bloggess for years, watched her struggle with her rheumatoid arthritis, her social anxiety, and her depression, all the while being one of the most joyful and optimistic presences on the internet. I was happy for her on a personal level that I rarely am when bloggers get book deals, and besides my real affection for her, I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that Let’s Pretend This Never Happened isn’t really a “blog” book, with blog entries stolen and bastardized into chapters*. It’s a book that happens to be written by a blogger, and that’s a huge difference.
*Except for the post-it chapter. And possibly the zombie Jesus chapter. But really, who gives a shit because those chapters are hilarious.
The Bloggess, aka Jenny Lawson, is not only one of the funniest people on the internet, she also happens to have the biggest and most outrageous imagination I’ve ever heard of, and her book is just as outrageous and inappropriate as I hoped it would be. Yes, it’s laugh out loud funny, but there were parts where what I was reading was so ridiculous (just remember that I warned you about the squirrel hand puppet chapter) that I had to stop reading and share it with someone. I’m sure there are quite a lot of people who will be incredibly offended by Lawson’s book, but those people don’t deserve to have fun anyway.
Lawson traces her life from her incredibly bizarre and fucked up childhood (a childhood full of love, though — don’t mistake fucked up for FUCKED UP, if you know what I mean) spent in the Texas countryside, dirt-poor and with the weirdest parents any child has ever had, to her adult life with beleaguered husband Victor and their daughter Hailey. The book is funny, but it’s also an examination of life viewed from the outside. Lawson writes that she has always felt different from other people, but as she’s grown older, it’s those differences that have allowed her opportunities that she would never had otherwise.
The one criticism that I have about the book is that after a while the jokes start to wear a little thin. She’s writing in some cases about horrific things, and she’s a funny person, so of course she’s going to use humor as a coping mechanism, but pain and real details are the heart of a memoir, and she masks them perhaps just a little too well. I found myself wishing that she would give us, her readers, just a little bit more realness in the midst of the insanity. Maybe I did the book a disservice by reading it so quickly. Maybe Lawson’s very strong and unique voice is better suited to short bursts of reading than long marathons. Regardless, this is a book worth your time. Just don’t read it in public or you might scare people with your convulsions of hysterical laughter.