So I’m not really much of a book-laugher, or a laugher-at-books if you prefer. I’m more of a snuffler – when something amuses me, I make a noise that’s kind of a hybrid between a tiger that’s pleased to see you and Muttley. Jenny Lawson, however, made me laugh out loud until I cried, both with her debut book and with her blog, The Bloggess.
Summary – Every teenager wants to fit in and be just like everybody else. So imagine how hard that is when your father runs a taxidermy business out of the family home, your mother runs the student cafeteria, and your sister has just been elected high school mascot, which means she walks the halls in a giant bird costume. But as Jenny Lawson grows up, falls in love, gets engaged – in a way that is as disastrous as it is romantic – and starts a family of her own, she learns that life’s most absurd and humiliating moments, the ones we wish we could pretend had never happened, are the very same moments that make us who we are.
I actually picked up Let’s Pretend This Never Happened before I knew anything about Jenny Lawson or her blog. It was part of the ‘Staff Picks’ stand at Waterstones and I figured I’d give it a go, intrigued by the costumed mouse on the cover. Only later, after I’d read the blurb properly, did I finally click onto The Bloggess. And then, approximately five hours later, I temporarily stopped reading it.
It was almost inevitable that this book would be compared to Caitlin Moran’s How To Be A Woman – the cover is unnecessarily similar and the chatty, informal writing style is great in both. However, although both are autobiographical to a certain extent, How To Be A Woman deals with the sub-issue of feminism while this book spends more time with mental illness and anxiety. When you also take in the difference in countries, upbringings and employment, you actually have two quite different books.
This woman is hilarious – reading her blog is at the top of my 4am activity list (What? You don’t have one of those!? You’re missing out!) and I nearly always end up literally crying with laughter. I was reading Let’s Pretend This Never Happened on the train, tried to stifle my laughter and ended up choking. Like I said way up top, I am a snuffler, not a laugher, so this is one pretty damn special book.
It was at this exact moment that the ‘dead’ rattlesnake suddenly started angrilily striking at Victor’s leg. Uncoincidently, it was also the exact same moment that I ducked back into the truck, taking the spotlight with me and leaving Victor in the pitch-black darkness on an abandoned road, as the angry rattlesnake he was holding tried to murder him.
“BRING BACK THE LIGHT,” he screamed.
“I TOLD YOU NOT TO GO OUT THERE!” I yelled angrily, as I quickly locked the doors (for some reason) and rolled up all the windows. I was worried about him and wanted to help him, but I couldn’t help but think that he had brought this on himself.
“BRING BACK THE LIGHT OR I WILL THROW THIS DAMN SNAKE IN THE CAR WITH YOU,” he screamed, which was surprising, both because he sounded very vital for someone dying of snakebite, and also because he’d wrongly assumed that I hadn’t automatically locked all the doors. He knows so little about me, I thought to myself.
After a minute to slow his breathing, Victor’s voice was only vaguely controlled. “You left me alone. In the dark. With a live rattlesnake.”
“No. You left me alone. In the car. For a live rattlesnake,” I countered. “So I guess that makes us even.” There was a long pause as he stared at me. “But I forgive you?” I said.
There are one or two parts that I recognise from my avid trawlings of Jenny Lawson’s blog, but not many. I suppose it’s almost inevitable though – she’s only led one life, after all, there’s bound to be a little cross-over.
I have to admit that the book did go downhill a little bit towards the end. It started to get less funny and more about her anxiety disorder. It’s obviously a very important part of her life, but it was a bit repetitive. Also, the ending itself disintegrates into a generic, soppy memoir and it did make me lose interest a little. I was reading this for amusement, not pseudo-poignant musings on memories and reputation.
That said, I still loved this book – I can’t really explain how funny it is without you reading it yourself (which I highly recommend doing). It was difficult to not just post quote after quote for this review, because that’s pretty much all my notebook page for this review consists of. Just buy this – I dare you not to snuffle.