This books holds up amazingly well considering the subject matter. I didn’t originally pick it up when it came out because I had, at that point, basically read Brosh’s blog to the point of memorization and didn’t see a need to have a hard copy of it, but after her second book came out, I felt the need to revisit her previous work to see if I was actually comparing her new material to what she’d produced before or my weird memories of it.
It turned out to be a little bit of both.
I’m not going to do the plot thing I typically do since this is a book of essays but each of her stories are well structured, and the plot of each chapter unfolds in a way that is somehow both extremely natural and also clearly planned. Like those youtube make up tutorials that spend an hour making you look like yourself, only heavily photoshopped.
I don’t think any reader of Brosh’s work has a neutral relationship with mental health, and I think where you are is really going to influence how Brosh’s work affects you. When I was reading her work in university, she made me laugh harder than just about anyone else on the planet. Simple Dog was probably the best thing I read the whole damn year. Now, I read Simple Dog and I see my own dog, who was very very stupid (we did the same tests Brosh did, and he did in fact fail them in spectacular fashion). You’d think I’d find the story even funnier with personal experience, but my memories of my dog short circuiting trying to please me are bitter sweet. So I found it a lot more relatable, but less funny.
A lot of her discussion of depression felt, at the time, quite removed. I went through a weird phase when I was younger where I wanted to be more depressed than I was, so I was genuinely happy to spot things in her journey with depression that I could relate to like this was somehow a victory. Having gone through some real struggles with mental health since, again, the material ends up being more relatable, but I can’t seem to laugh at it the way I used to, even though I’m actually much better now.
I guess my takeaway is that this book might not stand the test of time as a comedic book necessarily (though I’m sure plenty of people still find it hilarious), but rather as a droll, painfully honest, and rare glimpse into one of the first people who were brave enough to talk openly about some of the darkest things our minds can tell us and show us that we’re not alone.
And I think this book would still be extremely relevant for young people, because while the technology has changed, and the climate has changed in a lot of ways, this book focuses on what goes on inside your head, and I think that hasn’t changed all that much. It may well be very helpful for young folks looking for language to describe how they’re feeling, and maybe take the step of asking for help, even if they do it by writing it in marker on their face.