Sunday, July 14, 2013

Let's Pretend This Never Happened ~ Jenny Lawson

I got Let's Pretend This Never Happened, Jenny Lawson AKA the Bloggess's memoir when it first came out in 2012 - my husband had preordered it for me the previous Christmas so it was delivered upon release and I was SO EXCITED for it because, in case you don't know, the Bloggess is hilarious.    And - I was disappointed.  I only got a little ways in, but there was just too much "haha look how hilarious I am" going on for my taste.  People pointing out their own hilarity (as opposed, say, to the hilarity of a situation) is not my thing.  So I stopped reading it and shelved it and that was that.  Until two weeks ago, when I RSVPed for a book club Meetup here in Austin and that was the chosen book. I figured that since I already had it and I still like the Bloggess and really want to meet some people down here, I should give it another shot.  And I have to admit, I'm glad I did.

Jenny Lawson grew up in a very rural Texas town, with a father obsessed with all wild creatures, no matter how dangerous or dead they might be.  Her embarrassment made an outcast of her, and probably fed into her current anxiety disorder and OCD, as well as various medical ailments.  Today, she is married with a young daughter and hosts an extremely successful blog, but still suffers debilitating panic attacks and depressive episodes.  However, despite her issues, she is kind of an inspiration in her efforts to live her life despite mental illness, raise awareness of mental illness, and, above all, laugh.

This is a memoir that will take you by surprise.  As I said earlier, there's a lot of look how hilarious/ridiculous I am going on, but then all of a sudden, Jenny is having repeated miscarriages and climbing under tables at parties, and it's heartbreakingly sad (even though she constantly throws in bits that make you laugh and then feel terrible about it - but it's okay, Jenny wouldn't mind).  She is honest, in a way that most memoirists probably are not, and I know this because of how much she talks about her vagina.  You do not talk about your vagina unless you are being very, very honest.

As for the message that Jenny relates about mental illness - well, it's mixed.  If somebody without mental illness were to write this kind of stuff about it, it would probably make me angry because NOT COOL GUYS.  But because Jenny suffers from mental illness and is so honest about it and sometimes laughs at herself because that's how she copes, I'm okay with it (not that I have any place having an opinion about how somebody talks about her mental illness, I'm just talking about my personal reaction).  Because this is what it's like and it's just so great to know that Jenny has the strength and the support to bounce back and maintain her humor.

My only substantial complaint about the book is the clear lack of editing.  I'm not talking about the lack of organization and continuity, or the excess of random asides, because that's kind of the point - it's supposed to represent how Jenny thinks, so that makes sense.  But beyond that, it could have been edited a bit just for readability - there are some grammar and sentence construction mistakes that can be distracting.

Apparently, there's a new edition of Let's Pretend This Never Happened out with a new chapter, which is not the version that I read.  But you should probably seek that one out, because more of the Bloggess is never a bad thing.  Oh, and you probably shouldn't read this for your book club.  Unfortunately, most people don't seem to have much more to say about it than "it was hilarious" or "I wouldn't be her friend" (seriously, somebody said that - which is obviously crazy, because who wouldn't be the Bloggess's friend?!).  Unless your book club is just an excuse to drink wine, in which case, GO FOR IT.  I'm sure you could figure out some excellent book-based reading game.

6 comments:

  1. Interesting how our opinions can shift when we return to a book we put down the first time we read it. I hope this leads to many cool book discussions for you. Have you been to Book People yet? I meet booksellers from there during my bookish conventions but I've never seen the store in person.

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    1. Yes! I went once (it's a bit of a drive and I can't actually afford books right now) and it was really nice. A gorgeous bookstore, fun and quirky, with a great cafe! I would take it over Barnes and Noble any day!

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  2. (Sorry if you're gettin this comment twice. I can't tell if the comments I've been leaving when I use my iPad are going through. I don't think they are...)

    So wait, someone said they don't want to be friends with Jenny Lawson. I don't understand.

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    1. (I only got it once. Commenting with Apple mobile devices suuuucks.)

      I KNOW RIGHT?! I was like uhh okay, crazy stranger. I'm pretty sure that means that she and I can't be friends either.

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  3. This is probably the funniest book I have ever read. My husband got tired of me reading it to him and showing him the pictures.

    Zaira Lynn (Best Microsoft Software Downloads)

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  4. Dude. Meeting people in a new city sucks!! And honestly I've always had terrible luck with book clubs....

    I met my four closest friends in my city via: 1) public transit 2) work 3)roommate and 4) we went to college together and barely knew each other but then discovered each other in the same city as alums and became close.

    Sooo....maybe try connecting with your college alumni association in your city? At least then you'd have something presumably in common. Also, I highly encourage hanging out in parks or on the bus in your neighborhood and striking up conversations with interesting-looking people. I talked to my bus friend because she liked my skirt and I liked her BSG patch.

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