November book review – satirical blogger Jenny Lawson’s memoir Let’s Pretend This Never Happened

“Mm… yeah, let’s pretend this never happened.” A phrase some of us have embarrassingly stammered far too many times than care to admit.

ImageSo when passing a book in Chapters called Let’s Pretend the Never Happened I stopped, stared, and asked myself if I wrote a book and did not remember doing it.  “No, crazy” I whispered to myself.

Lo and behold it was the works of a much more talented writer, and woman behind, Jenny Lawson. The Bloggess gets about half a million hits on her blog a month, so naturally, I thought I have to make my book club read this potentially crazy but probably hilarious book.

And so I did.

And crazy-but-funny it was. So much so that the average rate the UBC girls gave it was 4 out of 5, one of our highest ratings lately.

Lawson’s “mostly true” memoir was premised on her rather eccentric rural upbringing; including a taxidermist for a father. Her father’s home-based profession was ostensibly an invite to provide details of the literal ins-and-out of every animal brought into her home, yet she somehow manages to make these tales of dead animals…funny:

 “Anyway, my dad had just finished cleaning the deer [carcass] when I made a recklessly fast, ninja-like U-turn to avoid getting tagged by my sister, and that’s when I ran. Right. The fuck. Inside of the deer…I stood there, kind of paralyzed and not ninja-like at all…you aren’t supposed to wear deer for sweaters. You’re not supposed to throw up inside them either, but that doesn’t mean it didn’t happen.”

The focus of her comedic essays swiftly shift to the slightly more relatable context of her not-so-romantic adventures with her husband Victor, who had a much more “normal” urban, wealthy up-bringing. In Victor’s quest for normalcy, Lawson is determined to keep doing and interpreting things in a completely unorthodox way. Again, I know I’m a bit awkward so I’ll provide some excerpts as proof:

 “…And whenever I had menstrual cramps, I could just pretend that Voldemort was close.” 

Victor: “YOU are using a frisbee as a plate.”

Lawson: “Uh, what? I’m not using a–oh hang on, this is a frisbee. Weird.” Victor glared at me.

Lawson: “Dude, calm down, I’ll wash it afterward. It’s probably dishwasher safe.” 

And finally, the anniversary gift- A five-foot tall metal chicken named Beyoncé:

“It’s an anniversary gift for you, asshole…FIFTEEN YEARS IS BIG METAL CHICKENS.”

Ding-dong. Lawson ran and hid to catch Victor's reaction.

Ding-dong. Lawson ran and hid to catch Victor’s reaction.

See? I’m pretty darn normal in comparison. That’s what this book will do: make you feel splendidly normal, and you can turnover to your significant other in bed and say “hey, you’re lucky I’m not this cray.”

A couple worthy criticisms: the book could have been improved by trimming down some of the self-conscious rants, and the random light-hearted mentions of Lawson’s struggle with anorexia. While the chapters were short, some were filled with a bit too much erroneous detail and add-ons at the end, such as “P.P.P.P.P.P.S” which got a little tiresome.

All is to say we agreed this book was not “unputdownable” in the literal sense. It was not a page-turner, rather it was a laugh out loud break from seriousness of everyday normal life. And I think we can all give thanks to a writer who can make you laugh numerous times in a book, whether it be about a carcass, or her own lady-parts.


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5 Responses to November book review – satirical blogger Jenny Lawson’s memoir Let’s Pretend This Never Happened

  1. Pingback: Julia’s Favourite Books in 2012 | The "Unputdownable" Book Club

  2. Julia Kent says:

    Hi there, no idea why the RSS won’t work for you! We haven’t had anyone else say that. Unfortunately I am not a pro at RSS so I can’t help.
    Do you use Google Reader?


  3. Pingback: Julia’s Picks | The "Unputdownable" Book Club

  4. Pingback: Memoirs – Good and Bad | The "Unputdownable" Book Club

  5. Pingback: Book of the month – In Cold Blood by Truman Capote | The "Unputdownable" Book Club

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