CBR10BINGO: Cover Art
I read through Jenny Lawson’s Furiously Happy in a few days, and honestly, not much of it stuck with me. Most of it was just too stream-of-consciousness and aggressively whimsical for my taste, and I found myself tuning out whole chapters, skimming over the parts that felt empty of meaning other than how self-consciously “crazy” someone can act. These parts rang false, much like those reality show contestants who do nothing but mug for the camera and show off for each other, more interested in creating a persona than letting any real personality peek through.
That’s unfortunate, because when Lawson dropped the affect, she made some genuinely touching observations. The whole section where she discusses our collective reaction to celebrities who die from suicide was really spot-on, particularly with the stinger, “They didn’t have a cure for an illness that convinced them they were better off dead.” Such a powerful message in so few words.
And then there was the chapter where she talked about how she’s usually fine onstage for readings but that she wants to hide before and after. This was the most relatable section for me, since I mostly felt that way in my younger days as a musician. Onstage, I could turn everything off and concentrate on myself and the music, but I was a wreck beforehand, convinced that each performance would finally be the career-ending disaster, and afterwards, I just wanted to slip out the back door without anyone seeing me rather than face the receiving line with a gracious smile while pretending that I wasn’t completely hollowed out inside.
I have no idea who the real Jenny Lawson is, and that’s immaterial anyway. I can only respect her for writing about her own mental illness and wish there were more of those genuine moments that allowed me to connect rather than so much of the affected silliness that left me cold. I admit to picking up this book based mostly on the cover, all glittery gold raining down around that demented raccoon, so I really shouldn’t be surprised that the inside mirrored the outside.
I wouldn’t go out of my way to recommend this book, but I also wouldn’t discourage anyone from reading it. I mean, I still giggle uncontrollably when I think about the cat and the tinklebell. That bit alone was worth the purchase price.