Monday, April 13, 2015

Let's Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson

Let's Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson (The Bloggess)
Published 2012 by G. P. Putnam's Sons
Source: bought this at my local library sale

Publisher's Summary:
When Jenny Lawson was little, all she ever wanted was to fit in. That dream was cut short by her fantastically unbalanced father and a morbidly eccentric childhood. It did, however, open up an opportunity for Lawson to find the humor in the strange shame-spiral that is her life, and we are all the better for it.

In the irreverent Let’s Pretend This Never Happened, Lawson’s long-suffering husband and sweet daughter help her uncover the surprising discovery that the most terribly human moments—the ones we want to pretend never happened—are the very same moments that make us the people we are today. For every intellectual misfit who thought they were the only ones to think the things that Lawson dares to say out loud, this is a poignant and hysterical look at the dark, disturbing, yet wonderful moments of our lives.

My Thoughts:
Having just read back-to-back Faulkners and being in the middle of I Know This Much Is True for book club, I knew I needed something light to break things up. Oh my lordy, was this book ever the "right book at the right time!"

Let's Pretend This Never Happened is, literally, laugh out loud funny.  And read whole passages to your spouse funny. Luckily for my spouse, it was humor that was right up his alley and he (mostly) always at least chuckled when I read passages to him. He did point out, Mom, that this is not a book for you. Too much talking about vaginas, he said. I agree but I think my mom would mostly not enjoy it because there is a generous use of the "F" word. So, if you have a problem with either of those things in a book, you've been warned. Also, if you're not a fan of taxidermy. There's a lot of that, too.

To say that Lawson's childhood was unconventional would be a massive understatement. Thanks largely to her father, though, her childhood was hysterical to read about. Because her father was prone to bring home inappropriate animals (both living and dead), Lawson and her sister invented "The Dangerous Thesaurus of My Father."

  "It's not going to hurt you." = "I hope you like Bactine."
  "It's very excited." = "It has rabies."
  "Now, don't get too attached." = "I got this monkey for free because it has a virus."
  "It likes you!" = "This wild boar is now your responsibility."
  "Now, this is really interesting." = "You'll still have nightmares about this when you're thirty."
  "Don't scream or you'll scare it." = "You should really be running now."
  "It just wants to give you a kiss." = "It's probably going to eat your face off."

This is man who thought using a dead squirrel as a hand puppet and waking his daughters up in the middle of the night to surprise them with it was a good idea. Between their father, a mother who was the school lunch lady, and being poor, growing up was tough and most people would have probably written this as a tragedy or a "how I overcame great obstacles and succeeded in life" memoir. Lawson grew up to find the humor in it all, but also to appreciate the fact that she didn't have a cookie cutter upbringing.

As funny as I found this book (the conversations between Lawson and her husband, Victor, are a riot), what made it such a good book was the honest way Lawson talked about more serious subjects. She doesn't shy away from talking about the sorrow of multiple miscarriages, the difficulty of dealing with a chronic medical issue, or her ongoing battle with mental illness (she suffers from OCD and crippling anxiety disorder). Beneath that wild woman who grew up thinking that there was such a thing as water squirrels (until she was told later in life that those squirrels she had once upon a time been swimming with were actually squirrels that had drowned in a flash flood), there is a woman who appreciates all that life has thrown at her.
"Because you are defined not by life's imperfect moments, but by your reaction to them. And because there is joy in embracing - rather than running screaming from them - the utter absurdity of life. I thank my family for teaching me that lesson. In spades."
I thank Lawson for reminding me of that. And for reminding me that there's nothing wrong with a marriage where people bicker as long as they love and understand each other. And for making me laugh. I needed that!

*Bloggers, there is an entire chapter about a trip Lawson went on with a group of bloggers that cracked me up but also reminded me why I love my blogging friends so much!
"Women scare me enough, but bloggers can be even more frightening to deal with. Most bloggers are emotionally unstable and are often awkward in social situations, which is why so many of us turned to blogging in the first place. Also, they are always looking for something to write about, so you f*&% something up it will be blogged, Facebooked, and retweeted until your death."
**Why doesn't Blogger's dictionary recognize the word "blogger??"

***This is what Neil Gaiman had to say about the book:
"The Bloggess writes stuff that actually is laugh-out-loud, but you know that really you shouldn't be laughing and probably you'll got to hell for laughing, so maybe you should read it. That would be safer and wiser."
At least that's what they say on the book that Gaiman said. But there is also a quote for Jesus (who appears numerous times in the book) which I'm pretty sure is not a real quote, so who knows.

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