Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Let's Pretend This Never Happened (Jenny Lawson)

I am not particularly a fan of the humor book genre. I am frequently confused by them: are they essays? Are they memoirs? I have a difficult time understanding their purpose and function. I don't know whether to laugh or try to glean a life-lesson or some deep emotion from the book. There is, of course, the chance that the humor book won't be funny, in which case it has failed at its most basic goal (my experience with David Sedaris has left me wanting).

I read Bossypants earlier this year and, though I liked it, I found myself occasionally disappointed. The material wasn't too consistent and at times veered from the completely humorous to the overly sentimental. Jenny Lawson's memoir, fortunately, never once failed to make me laugh aloud (I measure consistency as at least one laugh per chapter/essay/whatever the heck the sections of a nonfiction humor book are called).

Let's Pretend This Never Happened is an exercise in sustaining a zany, breathless deluge of comedy, and it succeeds perfectly. This is no small feat: Lawson commands humor even in the darkest of situations (namely, a chapter devoted to her pregnancy horrors and several instances where her overpowering social anxiety disorder causes a disaster). There are true moments of genuine emotion that the reader feels alongside the author, sadness and happiness and success and failure, feelings that never cover everything in a suffocating blanket of forced importance.

It is, of course, important that these moments of non-humor appear in the book; without some heavy anchors, the book will appear over-the-top; humorous, but not memorable. There is an almost impossible-to-achieve balance between humor and seriousness in writing a book like this, but Jenny Lawson tightrope walks it like she's been doing it her whole life (which, I suspect, she has).

I cannot recommend this book strongly enough. It is so funny in every way that I can imagine: sarcastically, genuinely, darkly, cutely, relatably hilarious.

My rating: 5/5
Let's Pretend This Never Happened on Goodreads
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1 comment:

  1. I listened to this one on audio too and really enjoyed it. It was very funny!!