Author; Jenny Lawson
Genre; Non fiction
Publisher/Year of 1st Publication: Flatiron Books. 2015
Number of Pages; 329 (my hardcover copy)
Other Titles; Let’s Pretend This Never Happened
One of the major reason’s one can’t critic this book too much is that the author does say right at the very beginning that this book is not for every one. Although not in those exact words, but still obviously stated and I agree with her. This book is full of so much ramble, too much ramble actually. She goes on and on and on it’s tiring and you literally just make the book a dormant coaster on your table for a few days or use it as a mouse pad for your computer until you are ready to resume her rambling.
She discusses growing up with many mental health illnesses and disorders while trying to make activities that surrounded each bout of disorder hilarious. In actual fact, the only time she addresses real issues of mental health are at the very first three pages and the vey last three pages. The rest are her attempts at functioning through life, in spite of the mental illness. For instance, wanting a perhaps 10th cat she can name Mr President so she can confuse the hell out of people, hiding in anxiety just before going on stage for a speaking engagement, some of her blog posts that went really viral, walking bare feet in snow, buying animal costume compulsively, funny conversations with her parents, arguing daily with her husband who we readers get a sense that he is mostly tired from her rambles but loves her like that. He says of her that life without her “may be easier but not necessarily better.” I awwwwwed and held my chest when I read that.
Unfortunately though, the comedy in many of the stories can be lost on anyone including those who suffer mental health challenges, who this book is supposedly for, because she just wouldn’t stop rambling on and on.
The parts of it that are funny are deliciously funny, delicious enough to have you re-reading a sentence six times or imagining the words were being said to you face to face. Like a part she wrote about her yawn, and how it “sounded like a car tire going flat, but in reverse.” I did have to pause to imagine that flapiaawnnnnn sound backwards and of course I laughed again. Many times however, as with many comedians,(she’s not a comedian by the way) it went terribly flat. Like one of the chapters towards the end where she discussed taxes and getting her finances together; felt like unnecessary talk, like when you write three extra pages of crap in your History exam just because you can see other people requesting extra sheet and you don’t want to appear like you can’t write too.
On the flip side though, I am quite happy that I chose to read this book this month. In the middle of bouts upon bouts of depression, it was a welcome cheer for few minutes a day. Plus, reading sentences like “When you come out of the grips of depression there is an incredible relief, but not one you feel allowed to celebrate. Instead, the feeling of victory is replaced with anxiety that it will happen again.” resonated. I felt like I was in a safe, familiar territory.
The language of the book is very raw, no hold backs, no sugar quoting type of language. If she thinks you are a fucking dick head, that’s exactly what she will write when talking about you. A fucking dick head.
She seems to have a thing for animals, constantly looking for how to get them to smile, stretch hands, have emotions, inherit wealth etc, whether dead or alive.
Also, reading this book made me realise there is such a thing called Taxidermy*. As in an actual career, the art of preparing, stuffing and mounting the skins of dead animals for exhibition in a lifelike state. The author’s father is a taxidermist and she herself, while not taking it on as a career is a huge fan of collecting taxidermied animals that died of natural causes as home “decor.“I did find this utterly intriguing.
There are many people in this world who won’t enjoy this book, but there are many people who this book is specifically meant for, who she made a legitimate case for, despite being such a “silly” book. Many critics have knocked it off for being a book about mental illness that does not exactly discuss mental illness and to be honest, I don’t even think that everyone who suffers a mental challenge would necessarily relate to this book, that’s how much of an over board book it is. I however feel that she’s allowed to discuss it from whatever angle she pleases. If she want’s to make comedy off it as a way to still talk about it, she should be allowed. Overall, I will give it a 6/10. It is not a bad book and it is not a New York times best selling book for nothing.
*The racoon on the cover page of the book is taxidermied.
*I did consider using a dead spider as props for the photo. I did not find any.
*You may find a $25 bill inside this book.
*This is the second non-fiction book I have reviewed this year.. The first was Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic; Creative Living Beyond Fear, reviewed in March, which you can read here