I live in a shitty apartment in Queens with two Serbian strippers who barely speak English. *Things you succumb to in order to afford brunch and getting your fortune told on a Sunday night at a speakeasy poetry reading because you’ve had too much featured absinthe and you were intrigued by the guy in the corner with a turban*. I meet them and I’m all like, “what was Siberia like?” until I realize that Siberia is not equivalent to Serbia. Tomato, tomahto. Once I settle in—AKA learn how to cross my fingers just right to get the stove burners to work—I ask basic living arrangement questions. I wonder, “how do I get my mail?” and they’re like, “what did you say about a tail?” I will never, ever understand where my letters go, so don’t bother sending me anything. Which means, I can spend as much money as I want without actually paying for it, riiiight? I’ll have to become a fugitive and dye my hair blonde despite my dark features. So, I’ll end up looking something like this:
Side note: my roommates now demand that I pay my rent in cash instead of a check because “it’s easier”. I told them it was easier to just not pay rent at all but they didn’t understand me because THEY DON’T SPEAK MY LANGUAGE.
Glad I got that off my chest. It was also a surreptitiously excellent way to start my review because this is exactly how Jenny Lawson writes. If you don’t like the paragraph above, then you won’t like this book. You’re welcome for saving you the time and effort. Jenny Lawson, not to be confused with the real J-law who kills it in American Hustle, is a sassy 41-year old blogger. Her eccentricity launched her to fame circa 2006 and her New York Times bestselling “mostly true” memoir—Let’s Pretend This Never Happened*-- increased her celeb status in 2012. See http://thebloggess.com for big laughs. But don't start visiting her blog more than mine cause that's f***** up. (I don't know why I feel the need to censor that word. I mean, it's a goddamn word made of arbitrary letters. I guess I want to attain employment in the future but perhaps that's too far gone).
This particular book is a witty recollection of her simultaneously most ridiculous and most defining life moments, from childhood until now. Her writing centers around the following themes: growing up in a home that was loving but completely chaotic, tormenting her husband Victor who somehow half-tolerates her, comedically coping with an endless list of debilitating ailments (OCD, depression, anxiety, and rheumatoid arthritis to name a few), and mothering her adorable daughter that is the miraculous product of many miscarriages. She has a darker, more tumultuous history than most, but she infuses her life with laughter, acknowledging that the times she should theoretically want to pretend never happened have shaped her into the mischievously talented woman she is today.
There is not much plot to divulge, so instead, here are some chapter names to get your imagination going:
- Draw Me a F****** Dog,
- And That’s Why Neil Patrick Harris Would Be the Most Successful Mass Murderer Ever
- Thanks for the Zombies, Jesus
- It Wasn’t Even My Crack
- And Then I Snuck a Dead Cuban Alligator on an Airplane
She also has a hilarious chapter about a time in high school where she tripped acid and came to the divine conclusion that “Smurfs were actually peaceful bixsexual communists” which is totally true (Lawson, 79).
Being inside her book is like being inside her head—she says what she wants to say, unfiltered. One passage reads: “Three words: Stanley, the Magical Squirrel. Actually that’s four words, but I don’t think you’re supposed to count the word ‘the’ since it isn’t important enough to be capitalized. All of this will be fixed by my editor by the time you read this anyway, so really I could write anything here. Like, did you know that Angelina Jolie hates Jewish people” (Lawson, 25)? Her editor might need to be fired.
As if being a funny woman wasn’t enough to make me fall head over heels, she is from the Lone Star State. At one point, she quotes a man who quotes Sam Houston, saying, “Texas can make it without the United states, BUT THE UNITED STATES CAN’T MAKE IT WITHOUT TEXAS”(Lawson, 242)! The New Yorker in me is like that is ludicrous, I hate anyone who would say something like that, and the Texan in me is like YES, THAT IS SO TRUE. REMEMBER THE ALAMO! I’ve been a Texan for 24 years and a New Yorker for one, so guess who overpowers whom.
All in all, this is really fun to read. For God’s sake, she’s able to use the phrase “work-related porn clip” in her memoir because she worked a freelance gig as a porn reviewer when she originally quit her HR job to become a writer (Lawson, 266). I recommend pairing the book with a glass (or five) of cheap red wine. And throw in a block of cheese while you’re at it. She cusses a lot in it, which is obviously not okay in my opinion because I’m a lady, but I’m willing to look past that shit. My only real complaint is an odd one—it’s a little too animal heavy. Her dad operated a self-owned taxidermy business, which contributed to several unusual stories involving wild animals, both alive and dead. It’s a lighthearted, laugh-worthy read with a good message about embracing your individuality, but to put it on par with the brilliance of something like Lolita strikes me as unsettling, so I give it 4 out of 5 camel humps. Read it and weep (since you’ll laugh so hard, you cry)!
Of note: Everything in the first paragraph is factual. I live with Siberian strippers. You should come over sometime.
*Lawson, Jenny. Let’s Pretend This Never Happened. New York: Berkley Books, 2012. Print.