Let’s Pretend This Never Happened: A Mostly True Memoir by Jenny Lawson
“In short? It is exhausting being me. Pretending to be normal is draining and requires amazing amounts of energy and Xanax.”
Jenny Lawson, the Bloggess, is one of the most relateable and funny women to come out of the blog craze of the early aughts. Her debut novel, Let’s Pretend This Never Happened, is a hysterical and poignant look at living with mental illness. But Jenny’s life isn’t just about managing her anxiety, OCD and depression. She has an intelligent partnership with her husband, Victor, and after years or fertility struggles she became the mother to a daughter named Hailey.
There is a lot of taxidermy (Lawson’s father is a taxidermist and his penchant for fixing up roadkill has been passed on to his daughter) as well as adventures with live animals and other anecdotes about living in rural Texas- escaping rural Texas- and ending back up in Rural Texas.
All the women in my family suffer from some combination of anxiety, OCD and depression which The Bloggess and the community she has built one of the more comfortable corners in the world for me. Let’s Pretend is a great introduction to Lawson and her particular brand of dark, dark humor and applying that morbid sense of humor to her often challenging life and maybe accidentally picking up some coping mechanisms of your own.
I listened to the audio book this time around and highly recommend. You get an additional essay and Lawson sounds like Megan Mullany when she is not doing the Karen voice.
Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson
“I’ve often thought that people with severe depression have developed such a well for experiencing extreme emotion that they might be able to experience extreme joy in a way that ‘normal people’ also might never understand. And that’s what Furiously Happy is all about.”
Furiously Happy, Lawson’s follow up to Let’s Pretend, is my favorite of her two memoirs. I think by 2015 Lawson had really come into her own as an author and online personality while still maintaining the essence that made her so captivating to begin with. Her essays cover both her unusual time in the spotlight and how her particular brand of fame has translated into her real life (skinned cats in the mail) and more outrageous “fights” and “conversations with” her long suffering husband, Victor. Plus all the fantastic taxidermy tales (and tails!) you never knew you needed!
Most importantly she maintains the same open and honest vibe from her previous novel. I think writing and blogging is cathartic and healing for Lawson but by sharing her pain with the world (and the humor she finds in it) she is helping tens of thousands of people. As I mentioned a week or two ago I have had a very exhausting summer so far and honestly the day and a half I spent listening to Lawson’s memoirs back to back noticeably lifted my spirits. Who needs Chicken Soup for the Soul when there are Stuffed Raccoons for the Overly Anxious?