Cannonball Read IV

A bunch of Pajibans reading and reviewing and honoring AlabamaPink.

Archive for the tag “Let’s Pretend This Never Happened”

Malin’s #CBR4 Reviews # 94-99: I’m nearly done with a double Cannonball, you guys!

So in the middle of October, I once again took part in the 24-hour Read-a-thon, and I’ve obviously been reading (and re-reading) books since then, but I’ve been falling behind on my blogging. So here’s a big catch-up post, and hopefully, within the week, I will have read and blogged a double Cannonball. I only set out to do a single one this year, and as a result, it seems that completing twice the amount became less of a chore.

94. A Wrinkle in Time by Madelaine L’Engle. I suspect I would have loved this more when I was younger. 4 stars.

95. Fun Home by Alison Bechdel. The first book I’ve read of hers. It won’t be the last. 4 stars.

96. Let’s Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson. I know it’s been reviewed so well, so many times on here, and I have no idea why I didn’t pick it up before. 5 stars. By far the funniest book I read this year.

97. A Notorious Countess Confesses by Julie Anne Long. Yet another historical romance,  surprising no one, I’m sure. “The one with the hot vicar” as Mrs. Julien dubbed it. 4 stars.

98. Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor. Unquestionably one of the most anticipated books of the year for me, this turned out to be something completely different from what I’d expected. 4 stars.

99. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky. So is it wrong that I was more charmed by the film? The 14-year-olds I teach, love it, though. 3.5 stars.


CBRIV: Book#10: Let’s Pretend This Never Happened (A Mostly True Memoir) By Jenny Lawson

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.

[Cross-posted to Goodreads]

Quorren’s #CBR4 Review #26 Let’s Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson

Once, I didn’t know what a Bloggess was.  Then pictures of Juanita the Weasel kenning over her ruined souffle began appearing in my Facebook newsfeed and I lost several hours of my life and possibly pulled a vocal chord trying not to laugh out loud in my cube.  And I immediately pre-ordered her book.

Now, I don’t have  great track record with humorous autobiographies.  As much as I wanted to love Bossypants, I never felt that I reached the level of ecstasy others got from it.  I also gave a lackluster review to Nerd Do Well, Simon Pegg’s book.  Part of it may stem from the fact that I have social anxiety and these books are like sitting down to the world’s longest dinner with someone.  So I decided with this book I would read a few chapters and then switch over to something else.  So instead of a dinner that ends up lasting two hours too long, I get twenty minute phone calls to Lawson.  In the end, due to the other book (reviewed next) being a snooze-fest, and this book being the epitome of hilarity, I read the book in two days.

To say that Jenny Lawson had an odd homelife is  like saying water is wet.  When your dad is a taxidermist, you’re either turn into a creeper or turn out with a wicked sense of humor.  My favorite story from the book was the Great Turkey Shit-Off of 1983.  I won’t give the finer points away, but there is turkey shit involved.  My least favorite was about her dead dog.  I also use humor to deal with my dark stuff, and now I know how off-putting it can be for others.  My empathy kicked in and instead of being all like, “HA!  You had to fight off vultures from your dead dog’s carcass with a machete!” I was more “SUBMIT TO MY HUGS, YOU NEED HUGS!”  Which I doubt either one of us would’ve enjoyed and it would’ve turn awkward fast.

ElCicco#CBR4Review#19: Let’s Pretend This Never Happened (A Mostly True Memoir) by Jenny Lawson The Bloggess

I will confess that I do not follow The Bloggess,aka Jenny Lawson. I found out about her because some Facebook friends posted a link to her blog entry “And That’s Why You Should Learn to Pick Your Battles,” about a large metal chicken named Beyonce. It was hilarious and so I checked The Bloggess’s web site ( I saw that Lawson had a book coming out (including the Beyonce story), and I bought it based on the one essay I had read. If you like David Sedaris and Augusten Burroughs, Lawson should be on your reading list. Like them, Lawson’s focus is often on her dysfunctional family, highlighting the warts but written with great humor and love. She also writes unflinchingly about her own struggles with anxiety and OCD but never loses the funny. It’s an amazing feat, in my opinion.

This is a great book for quotes — pretty much every page had some witty/snarky/hilarious comment on an outrageously unbelievable but mostly true event in her life. “The Psychopath on the Other Side of the Bathroom Door” is about Lawson’s attempt at a colon cleanse using excessive amounts of Ex-Lax. According to Lawson, “…there would have been no way to maintain the sensual mystery of womanhood if anyone had heard the noises coming from that bathroom.” The chapter on her 15 years in Human Resources,”The Dark and Disturbing Secrets HR Doesn’t Want you to Know,” is especially rich in hilarity. Some of my favorite quotes:

  • “Choosing to work in HR is like choosing to work in the complaint department in hell, except way more frustrating, because at least in hell you’d be able to agree that Satan is a real dick-wagon without having to toe the company line.”
  • “…HR is the only department actively paid to look at porn.”
  • “…sometimes you get brought in for an interview just to settle a bet.”

Lawson kept a notebook about the most interesting cases that crossed her desk over the 15 years, which involved a surprisingly large number of penis photographs being emailed or left in the office printer.

Taxidermy is a running theme throughout the book. Lawson’s father has a taxidermy business and once presented his daughters with a genuine dead squirrel puppet. Lawson has some unusual “stuffed pets” of her own including a boar’s head named James Garfield, an alligator named Jean Louise and a mouse, Hamlet von Schnitzel, who is featured on the book’s cover. [I still haven’t figured out how to put a picture in my reviews. I tried very hard to include the cover with Hamlet von Schnitzel.]

Even truly sad experiences, such as miscarriages, the death of her dog and her struggle with generalized anxiety disorder and OCD, include some humor. Lawson describes the agony and terror of attending dinner parties where she would hide in the bathroom due to anxiety. This might seem surprising as you read her intelligent and witty blogs, but she explains, “…I can actually come across as reasonably witty and coherent in e-mail, because I have time to think about what a normal, filtered, mentally stable adult would write before I press ‘Send.'” Real life/real time situations are a very different matter. Here is her description of what an anxiety attack feels like:

“I feel the panic build up like a lion caught in my chest, clawing its way out of my throat. I try to hold it back but my dinner mates can sense something has changed…. I vainly hope they’ll [people on the street who see her after she flees the scene] assume I’m just drunk, but I know they know. Every wild-eyed glance of mine screams, MENTAL ILLNESS.” When her friends or husband of 15 years Victor find her, she won’t talk and they assume it’s because she is embarrassed, but she writes, “I keep my mouth closed tightly because I don’t know whether I could stop myself from screaming if I opened my mouth.” This is a serious, honest depiction of  what must be a traumatizing experience, and yet later in the chapter, Lawson is able to inject the humor again. After a particularly disastrous dinner party experience, she says, “…Victor made me leave, swearing to never take me to another dinner party again. It was hard to argue with him, but I did point out that the party was kind of a win, because no one saw my vagina. Victor says we have different definitions of what a ‘win’ is.”

I especially love Lawson’s Epilogue, in which she looks back over her life so far and writes “…you are not defined by life’s imperfect moments but by your reaction to them.” She is an excellent example of this, and she recognizes the importance of her family and friends in helping her through the imperfections. 

I would like to finish by declaring that I initially felt weird reviewing a book by a popular blogger whose blog I’d never read , but I now feel that by buying the book instead of reading the blog, I am a better Bloggess fan. Some might argue that those who have followed the blog religiously, Tweeted with her, and provided fodder for her writing are better. But I bought her book. That’s money in her pocket. And I bought it on my Kindle which means I can’t even share it with anyone. If you want to read it (and you should), you’ll have to go buy it your own damn self. You’re welcome, Jenny Lawson.

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