If you walk through the memoir section in bookstores, chances are you’ll find books by people who have no business writing a memoir, such as a twentysomething reality-show star whose biggest life struggle so far is being dumped by a vapid boy.
Jenny Lawson, also known as The Bloggess, is the opposite of that. She’s experienced enough wackiness in her thirty-eight years to fill Let’s Pretend This Never Happened (A Mostly True Memoir) with hilarious stories, and might even have some left over for a few more tomes.
Lawson’s book tracks her childhood in rural Texas, having pet raccoons and a taxidermist father who likes roadkill and armadillo racing; through meeting her husband Victor and working in HR for fifteen years; to having her daughter Hailey and finding female friends for the first time after she starts blogging.
If you’re a fan of Lawson’s blog, you don’t need to read any further because you’ve probably rushed out and bought the book already. If you’ve never read Lawson’s writing, be ready to laugh out loud at outrageous stories that seem almost too wacky to believe—her dog getting her stabbed by chicken, her dad throwing live bobcats on Victor at their first meeting—until she shows you photos. She has a singular way of viewing the world, and such an engaging way of drawing readers into her world, that you, too, might start mentioning vampire cougars and the zombie apocalypse in casual conversations with friends after reading this.
Lawson can be digressive in her storytelling, venturing down tangents that take you far from the starting point, but her detours are entertaining and she eventually comes back to her point. The fact she has a point is a plus (she can even find a lesson in being mauled by dogs), because I’ve read memoirs with anecdotes that go nowhere and have no discernible purpose. She does overuse the word “vagina,” which makes it lose its humor and shock value after a while, and don’t we want to preserve the value of “vagina”?
But it’s not all witticisms and irreverence. Lawson takes you into some dark corners, too—her miscarriages, panic attacks, the devastating pain from rheumatoid arthritis. It’s impressive how she manages to face life with her sense of humor intact. The title aside, she seems to embrace everything that’s happened to her, knowing it has made her who she is. She may be self-deprecating and call herself mentally unstable, but to her fans, she’s an inspiration.
Nerd verdict: Pretend is the real deal—hilarious and full of heart