Saturday, November 30, 2013

Hyperbole and a Half (Allie Brosh)

It's fitting that the back of this book features a blurb from Jenny Lawson, AKA The Bloggess--who wrote last year's Let's Pretend This Never Happened, which happens to be one of my favorite books of last year and also the funniest book I've ever read--because I was reminded of Lawson's book in all the best ways.

I don't mean to make a comparison between the two, just as a way to compliment the work of Allie Brosh. She, like Lawson, is a humor blogger whose comedy varies from serious and dark stuff to light-hearted, hilarious stories about her dog. The format is slightly different; most of the book's content come in the form of essays lifted from her site, which I am embarrassed to admit I wasn't a regular reader of.

These essays come with pictures, drawn in a style that Brosh is known for, which is to say crudely simplistic and violently hilarious. Those are often the best parts of her essays--the dramatic facial expressions and odd sentential constructions without fail made me at the very least giggle but more often laugh full-heartedly. Using my handy "how-to-judge-humor-books" system, this book is a great success because I laughed at least once in every section; generally, I laughed more than once, in fact.

And perhaps the highlight of all the essays was the most sobering. I saw a lot of praise before the book came out for her essays on depression (which are on the Hyperbole and a Half website), so I was excited to read them and nervous they would disappoint me. But they didn't. They manage to capture perfectly the way depression can capture you and crush you for evidently no reason at all, and despite how heavy that sounds, it managed to make me laugh!

Brosh is truly a master of comedic balance. The book is light and funny but meaty and emotionally penetrating. I hate when people talk about a book or a movie "getting" them (as in, "Twilight just gets me"), but I got the feeling that the author really does get people. It's startling how anecdotes about herself feel like they're about you. "IS THIS LADY WATCHING ME?" I asked myself, terrified how accurately she described me (that is, herself). Her humor is universal.

Even if you've never encountered her work, pick the book up for you and for your friends because it's a hard book not to love. I don't even like dogs but she's just so funny that I laughed in spite of myself.

My rating: 4.5/5
Hyperbole and a Half on Goodreads
See what I've been reading lately!

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