book signing for Jenny Lawson's first book* Let's Pretend This Never Happened (A Mostly True Memoir). Obviously if I went to the book signing I'm looking forward to this book. I was prepared to love it and I was not disappointed.
You may already be familiar with Jenny Lawson through her blog, The Bloggess. If you don't already know her blog, you have to check it out. Consider it homework. But do that after you finish this post or I'll probably never see you again. You'll get sucked into her stories about the time she accidentally mailed herself a cobra, her various disagreements with her husband Victor, or all the time she spends hiding in bathrooms during parties. If you do read her blog, you know what you're getting into when you read her book. During the book signing Lawson mentioned that most people assume the book came about because of her blog. In actuality, she started the book first (10 years ago) and began writing her blog in an effort to make herself write and to find her voice. And she found it. And it's glorious.
Lawson's memoir focuses on the embarrassing, difficult moments in her amazing yet unconventional life. Because as she says, how you react to the most moments you want to pretend never happened is what makes you who you are. This isn't a straight memoir. There are a lot of non sequiturs. It's not that it's stream of consciousness, so much as it jumps around to lots of different, but related, topics. It's like talking to someone with ADD. Also be prepared for cursing. For whatever reason Lawson gets grouped in with mommy bloggers** so there's this expectation that she's child friendly or at least doesn't write chapters like "And Then I Got Stabbed In The Face By A Serial Killer" or "It Wasn't Even My Crack". Lawson gives you her own warning right in the intro:
I apologize in advance...for offending you, because you're going to get halfway through this book and giggle at non sequiturs about Hitler and abortions and poverty, and you'll feel superior to all the uptight, easily offended people who need to learn how to take a fucking joke, but then somewhere in here you'll read one random thing that you're sensitive about, and everyone else will think it's hysterical, but you'll think, "Oh, that is way over the line." I apologize for that one thing. Honestly, I don't know what I was thinking.I had trouble reading this book in public because I was laughing so much I was crying. That is not an exaggeration. Tears were falling. The good part was I did manage to get a 3 seater on the LIRR to myself. I think the person who (briefly) sat with me thought I was losing it. Because she doesn't understand the magic of having Lawson's father throw a live bobcat at her future husband. I saw someone at the Christopher Moore signing the night after the Lawson one reading her book and laughing as well. So fair warning, you will literally laugh out loud and get strange looks from people.
I was trying to think of quote to share. Or even name my favorite chapter. But the problem in both cases is I just end up listing everything. It is all my favorite. Even writing this post I almost started reading the book again. It's a quick read and many of the chapters can be read as stand alone stories. And sometimes I need to hear about her crazy stories from when she worked in HR. Or what it was like when her father brought home a tub full of baby raccoons. Or about how Victor refuses to donate his organs on the off chance that if he comes back as a zombie he'd be less effective if he was missing his eyes or something.
I know this is gushing and not very objective. But who cares because I loved this book. Any time I'm feeling down and need to smile, I will be reading a chapter or two. I guess if I had a complaint it would be some of the later chapters are things she also had posted to her blog, at least in part. So some of it I had read already. And I suppose I won't say it was a completely life-changing book but come on, that's a lot to expect from a book that has a taxidermied Hamlet mouse on the cover.
*I say first book because I hope there are more to come. Please.
** Alright she does write a separate mommy blog for Chron.com. Neither this nor her personal blog are mommy blog-esque, even if she keeps showing up on those lists
Title quote from page 230
Lawson, Jenny. Let's Pretend This Never Happened (A Mostly True Memoir). Amy Einhorn Books, 2012.