Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Let's Pretend This Never Happened (book review)

   This book was such a treat. So funny. So smart, witty and irreverent, and just brutally honest in delightful ways that made me want to give the author a hug. This is another great example of why I love book club with all of my word-starved heart, because without the group assignment I might never have taken the time to read a book whose cover art is a taxidermy mouse wearing a Shakespearean cape and collar. I mean, really.  But I am so, so, so glad Erica chose this title. I REALLY needed a good laugh!

Let's Pretend This Never Happened: A Mostly True Memoir

   Author Jenny Lawson has been running her little corner of internet paradise over at The Bloggess for I think about six years now, though I have only recently discovered her. I will be forever more be checking in, because she is flat out funny. Scary funny. Uncomfortable funny. But endearing and smart and relatable, and once more... funny.

   Her memoir is a long, bizarre string of stories from her life, ranging from childhood through young adulthood and early marriage to motherhood and present day. She writes as if she is talking to you privately, face to face, or maybe like she has you trapped on a public bus for several hours of uninterrupted story telling. You sort of feel like you should try and escape but you don't want to, because she is just so mesmerizing.

   In a refreshing change of pace, the book itself reads more like a blog than a traditional novel. Lawson does not apologize for jumping around with wild abandon, nor should she. Her story telling formula (or lack thereof, I suppose) works. She relays enough of herself to make you want to know her better, and somehow she exposes some wild and crazy truths about her family while still being deeply loving and affectionate. So this is neither a filthy private family tell-all nor a complaint session about how hard life is for a middle class woman in a first world country. It is an eyes-wide-open commentary on a remarkably colorful life made by the person living it. And she is so young! The life perspective she has managed to gain in less than four decades is just beautiful.

   Okay, following are some of my favorite juicy, salty tidbits from this delicious (if slightly strange) book. If you have recently read Let's Pretend This Never Happened, then I bet you will LOL with me all over again. If you haven't read it yet, then I predict this list will either further tempt you to buy it or finally send you away shaking your fearful head.

  • "I don't even know why I'm having to explain this!"
  • Foxen
  • Urine perimeter to repel snakes and scorpions and the ensuing (imaginary) peeing contest between husband and father
  • Halloween office party, cheerleaders from SNL, no panties
  • All things taxidermy, but especially the middle of the night squirrel
  • Secret understood translations for Dad's remarks on wild animals
  • Mom's impatience for the not-yet-invented Xanax
  • Laxatives, solitude, and a cat paw
  • Dead pet pug, vultures, a blue tarp, and a hatchet
  • Chupacabra
  • "I don't even know why I'm having to explain this!" (yes, I meant to duplicate that)
  • Victor and his well tested resolve
  • Editor's constant notes and insertions. (Were these real? One can only hope.)
  • Radio broadcast engagement, seven hours in the car, and suspicions of murder. And urgent pee.
  • Pirate gator who speaks French
   Yep, the Eff word appears prolifically throughout the book, because that must be exactly how Jenny (We're on a first name basis now) would tell her stories face to face on a public bus. So if that offends you so much you won't groove reading the book, then I can only say that you're missing out. I respect your standards, but you are missing out on some genuine, sore-ribs-the-next-day, joy-inducing laughter.

   Now, lest I convince you prematurely that Jenny's memoirs are all sunshine and roses, please know that she also deals candidly with some heavy stuff. She acknowledges the burden of psychological illness and shares the details of her ordeal shamelessly. Her candor is as enlightening as it is endearing. And still funny! She writes about her crippling pain with so much natural humor that I walked through my own life laughing at all KINDS of stuff this week! 

   More magnificent reasons to read Let's Pretend This Never Happened: For the soul-quenching dose of perspective and honesty. And for the exposure to what it's like for people who suffer with extreme depression and complex anxieties. I still want to give Jenny a hug, because now I know that nothing I say will help.

   Okay! Have you read this? Is it on your list? Are you a Bloggess fan and want to talk to me about your fave stuff? Dive in!! I still have to wait about forty eight hours before discussing this fine book with my super smart ladies, and that just might be too long.  

No Giant Metal Chickens Were Harmed 
in the Writing of This Book Review



    I love that chicken.

  2. That woman gets me. GETS ME. If you ever get a chance to meet her in person, DO hug her. It's very rewarding. :) Her descriptions of recognizing oncoming panic and anxiety read like they were coming straight from my own mind. And I'm sorry, but the best part in the whole book was her father and the turkey. Even my Husband had to put the book down and simultaneously hold his sides and wipe his eyes. Oy. SUCH a good read!!!


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