May 2012

Like laughing at a funeral

By Jenny Lawson
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Jenny Lawson (The Bloggess to her fans) grew up in a small town in rural Texas with a younger sister and many family pets. In college she met the man she would marry. They moved to the suburbs, had a child and eventually bought a house in a town similar to the one she grew up in. Everyone lived happily ever after.

If you squint kind of hard and read between the lines, that’s almost an accurate summary of Let’s Pretend This Never Happened. All that’s missing is Lawson’s dad, a taxidermist so enthusiastic about his work he couldn’t be relied on to make sure the animals were dead before tossing them on his children—or wearing them as hand puppets. Then there’s the family’s radon-poisoned well water, which her mother nevertheless bathed the girls in. “My mom was a big proponent of the ‘What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger’ theory, almost to the point where she seemed to be daring the world to kill us,” Lawson writes.

This is the kind of book where, once you’ve got the lay of the land, a sentence like “[My neighbor] seemed more concerned this time, possibly because I was belting out Bonnie Tyler and crying while swinging a machete over a partially disturbed grave” makes total sense. It might also make you laugh and cry simultaneously, since the grave held Lawson’s beloved pug and she was swinging at vultures who were trying to dig him up. If that doesn’t make you laugh, there’s a story about her multiple miscarriages and the subsequent birth of her daughter that’s an absolute howler. No, seriously. Plus: Chupacabras!

While the subject matter may be in questionable, or unquestionably bad, taste, this book induced convulsive laughter so hard it qualified as a Pilates workout. And the point of the whole enterprise is to not run from but celebrate those things that make each of us want to hide, since we’ve all got them—though maybe not as many or as freaky as Jenny Lawson’s. That’s why she’s The Bloggess and the rest of us just work here. Pretend this never happened? Not possible, and that’s all the more reason to be glad.

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Let’s Pretend This Never Happened

Let’s Pretend This Never Happened

By Jenny Lawson
Amy Einhorn
ISBN 9780399159015

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