I was already a fan of The Bloggess, Jenny Lawson’s blog-alias. And her local connection (she’s Texas, with some time logged in a Houston suburb) didn’t hurt, either. Well, now having listened to her book as an audio read by the lovely Jenny herself, I can even more wholeheartedly recommend her to you.
Jenny has a quirky, crass sense of humor: she is fond of the word “vagina” and curses a fair amount. These things do not bother me, but fair warning. She combines that style, however, with an occasional earnestness that is endearing and captivating. This is her “mostly true memoir” (which I think is a great way to speak of memoir, in general! my impression is this one is as “true” as most), and therefore it’s the story of her childhood, growing up, marriage, and family life with husband Victor and daughter Hailey, including moving around the state. One emphasis is the crazy upbringing she experienced in a tiny tiny Texas town with an eccentric taxidermist father (whose idea of a loving welcome is tossing a baby bobcat at her new boyfriend) and long-suffering mother. Another is the mental illness Jenny suffers from, including generalized anxiety disorder and post-traumatic stress. (Disclaimer: I have no print version of this book at hand and am going by memory. But I am fairly confident in my memory.)
Her handling of these subjects is on the one hand hilarious, outlandish, and obscene, and on the other, as mentioned earlier, serious and thoughtful. For someone who suffers fairly debilitating bouts of depression and mental illness, Jenny is surprisingly positive in her interpretation of her own experiences. Presumably her feelings in the moment are often much less cheery; but in the format of this book, where she got to think it through and get it right, her philosophies are refreshing, graceful, helpful, optimistic. She comes across in the end as damaged, yes, but also hopeful, wise, and fun. I want to be her friend. In other words, I give Jenny, her book, and her website my ringing endorsement! Oh, and do check out the audio version if you can. She reads it herself (and sings all the chapter titles), there’s a blooper reel at the end (really just a bunch of off-color ramblings), and I always like to get things in the author’s own voice if possible – in a memoir most of all. In fact, I will pay her the compliment of putting Let’s Pretend This Never Happened up next to Tina Fey’s Bossypants, also read by the author and also hilarious. Go check out Jenny Lawson because she is unique and bizarre in the best possible way.