I don’t often read memoirs for fun; in fact, I can’t think of any that I have read for which I didn’t earn some kind of academic credit. But I recently read Let’s Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson (aka, The Bloggess), and suddenly my own childhood started to look very, very normal.
I received the book for my last birthday and it sat in the pile of unread books on my nightstand for a few months before I actually decided to crack it open. Let’s just say that I read most of it on the subway while I traversed the city, and the TTC guys are awfully lucky I didn’t leave any messes for them to mop up. However, I did get lots of weird looks as a result of my frequent, involuntary responses to the stories.
The Highlights (According to Me)
- Mary had a little lamb, and Jenny had a quail named Jenkins. Except that Jenkins was actually her father’s pet turkey, and he was one of a dozen ornery birds that terrorized the family; he even ripped the windshield wiper off the mailman’s car. And then he followed young Jenny to school one day with hilariously disastrous consequences.
- Cat urine becomes evidence that Jenny’s relationship with Victor is actually viable. [The woman who sat across from me on the subway pretended not to laugh while I howled and snorted my way through this section. At least I think that’s what she was doing — I could hardly see through all the tears.]
- Jenny destroys the HR mystique and explains why you shouldn’t get too excited about that interview. She also tells a surprising number of stories about men sending pictures of their genitalia through their work emails. [Seriously?]
- Valuable life lesson #1: if you’re going to do a colon cleanse, do it right.
- Valuable life lesson #2: threatening to strangle your wife to prevent her from purchasing new bath towels may result in your doorstep being commandeered by a large, metal chicken.
The Lowlights (Keep a Bucket Nearby)
- Jenny’s father introduces his daughters to Stanley, the magic talking squirrel. [I was so horrified that I almost quit reading the book, but the following chapter about the author’s grandparents was so outrageously funny that it almost erased the trauma induced by this story. Almost.]
- Worst. Acid trip. Ever.
- Shortly after the Lawsons move to a rural area in Texas, the family pug dies suddenly of a suspected snakebite; his remains are later attacked by hungry vultures that Jenny attempts to fight off. [This poor woman is forever being tormented by big, ugly birds.]
(This) Editor’s Notes
I had a little trouble getting past chapter two (a list of strange facts about the author’s childhood) and chapter three (I’ll never look at roadkill the same way again) and I got a little tired of the serial postscripts that occasionally cropped up. However, once the book actually turned into something like a story, I was able to laugh along with Lawson’s many personal traumas, and it gave me hope to see that other screwed up people get to live (sort of) happily ever after, so maybe I can too. But don’t expect me to write a book about it. Just read this one. And buy some absorbent undergarments first … just in case.