Comedic dysfunction

After writing my fall exams, Jenny Lawson’s darkly hilarious memoir Let’s Pretend This Never Happened was just the pick-me-up I needed.

The story follows Lawson—widely known for her popular blog The Bloggess—from the time she was a small child growing up in the “violently rural” town of Wall, Texas right to adulthood. Along the way, Lawson finds humour in not only her most traumatic memories, which she is happy to share, but also in her everyday life. Unlike many other comedic books I’ve read, Lawson’s memoir seemed effortlessly funny. She just happens to have a life filled with enough dysfunction to fill 300 pages.

Rather than an organized description of Lawson’s life, this memoir is mostly a collection of anecdotes in chronological order. My favourite chapter is “A Series of Helpful Post-it Notes I Left Around the House for my Husband This Week”, in which Lawson summarizes the passive-aggressive arguments she constantly has with her spouse. In one note she writes, “Dear Victor, If you leave wet towels on the ground again I will stab you.”

The memoir is non-fiction, but a few events are very out of the ordinary. Among them is the time her family’s turkeys followed her to elementary school and pooped everywhere in the school’s cafeteria. Anticipating readers’ disbelief, Lawson also incorporates many captioned photos to prove just how insane her life actually is.

Despite the memoir’s comedic tone, Lawson doesn’t skip over the more difficult problems she’s faced, such as her multiple attempts to have children and her struggle with social anxiety. But rather than dwell on the negative, Lawson overcomes her challenges with resilience—not with stories of heroism or inspiration but with ones of humour that will have you laughing at the most inappropriate of times. She can easily switch from talking about a tough personal problem to joking about all the hilariously strange job applications she encountered while working in HR.

For all her blatant swearing and liberal use of caps lock, Lawson is still a fantastic writer. In fact, Lawson’s memoir could just as easily be labelled a tragedy if it weren’t for the way she twists the tragedy into comedy, much like fellow blogger-turned-author Allie Brosh of Hyperbole and a Half. The book has great pacing and is written in such a way that you can read it in one sitting.

More than anything, it was Lawson’s blunt humour and fearlessness to say the outrageous that made this book memorable.


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