Friday, April 27, 2012

Let's Pretend This Never Happened - A Review


Some people know that I do book reviews. I do them on my other blog, Gardening by the Book, and I do them on Horticulture magazine’s website. Once in a while, I do them here. Those are about gardening, but sometimes I read books that aren’t about gardening.  (Shocking, isn’t it? I do have a life outside of gardening!).

I’ve said before that my favorite gardening books are memoirs. That favoritism doesn’t generally follow over into other genres (wait...memoir is a genre...), but once in a while I’ll get a wild hair and decide to read one. Especially when it’s by someone I sort of know.

Knowing someone has taken on a whole new meaning now that there’s the internet. I’ll be having a conversation IRL (that’s “in real life” – not that the people on the internet aren’t having real lives too) and someone will mention a name and I’ll be like, “Oh, I know them! We’re friends on Facebook!” and then it’s like we’re family because we all know each other on Facebook. You know how that is.

So anyway, when Jenny Lawson, a.k.a. The Bloggess, said she was writing a book, I had to have it. If you’ve never read her, well, WTH is wrong with you? (That means "What The Heck," just so you know.) She’s incredibly funny, although that word just isn’t quite right when it comes to what she is. You have to throw in a little bit of irreverence and insanity along with funny and there you have it. Admittedly, she’s over the top sometimes and yes, I can be a little bit put off by that on occasion, but hey, no one’s perfect, right?

Let’s start off with the title – Let’s Pretend This Never Happened (A Mostly True Memoir). If I’m going to do an honest review of this book, I have a teensy weensy problem with that. A memoir is supposed to be true. Remember all the trouble James Frey got into with Oprah when he admitted he lied about most of what was in his memoir, A Million Little Pieces?

Well, I’m reading about Jenny’s life, and my mostly logical mind is having a hard time discerning what really happened and what didn’t. Sometimes it’s obvious, and sometimes it’s not. But really, most of it’s so bizarre that my logical mind says you just can’t make this stuff up. Not that it matters anyway, except that it’s a memoir.

So whether it’s 100% true (she already warns us that it’s not), 80% true, or 50% true, this is funny stuff. Although I do have a few family members who I’m pretty sure wouldn’t appreciate this kind of humor. I might even live with one of them. Several months ago, when I read Jenny’s blog post about the gigantic metal chicken to this particular family member, his first reaction was, “She needs to clean up her language.” I just stared at him with that deer in the headlights look. He totally missed my point. He totally missed Jenny’s point. But he’s probably on Victor’s side anyway. (You’ll have to read the book to know what that means. Page 277.)

There is the language thing. My parents taught me to never use bad language and I mostly don’t. I have a hard time saying certain words that have become very commonplace in today’s world, especially on the internet. I don’t feel the need to say them in spite of a good friend telling me that f*** is the most awesome word in the world because it has so many different uses.

See…I can’t even write it here because I know my mom will be reading this and it just feels weird for me to write it anyway. If you’re offended by that word, you might not want to read this book, because it appears there on a somewhat regular basis. But really, don’t let that stop you. You can skip over words like that and the book will still be funny.

(Pssst...I have to confess that I whispered the *f* word once. It was when I accidentally wiped out our database at work during a software update. I promise - it was entirely appropriate usage.)

Here’s another word of warning: if you read in bed like I do and you share a bed with someone else like I do, you might want to find another place for reading it. My husband already doesn’t like this book and he hasn’t even read it. It’s because it’s keeping him awake. Rather, I’m keeping him awake because on occasion, I’ll laugh right out loud. I don’t usually do this when I’m reading. I don’t usually do this when I’m watching a comedy on TV either. But this book is f***ing funny. (Sorry, Mom. Blame Jenny. Blame both Jennys – the author and my friend who thinks that word is awesome.)

In conclusion, humor is like art – it’s very subjective. I think this book is funny. (Have I said that already?) It doesn’t really matter to me if everything in it didn’t really happen, although I have a sneaking suspicion that almost all of it really did. I know people like this. Their lives are anything but boring, which has less to do with what happens to them and more to do with their reaction to it. And there’s the lesson to be had in it – shit happens. Clean it up and move on. And then laugh and write a book about it so we can all laugh with you. Jenny did.



Let's Pretend This Never Happened: (A Mostly True Memoir)
by Jenny Lawson

336 pages, hardcover
Amy Einhorn Books/Putnam ~ April 17, 2012
List price:  $25.95
Amazon price:  $12.97 (Save 50%)


Disclaimer: Most of the books that I review have been sent to me by the publisher. That has spoiled me and I seldom buy books myself anymore. So when I do buy one, you know I'm compelled to do so for a very good reason. I bought Jenny's book myself.

13 comments:

Terry @ Domesticated Dilettante said...

Thanks for the fun review...and word of warning. (I too am loathe to drop the F bomb - never in print and rarely aloud or even in my head.) I think it has much to do with my formative years when my mother pounded it into me that I was blessed by an extensive vocabulary that wasn't limited to the typical common vulgarities :-)

Best,
Terry

Diane said...

I got my copy just this morning! I can't wait to read it. The Bloggess is one of my favorite bloggers. I love how she embellishes reality to make it more entertaining to herself, and the rest of us get to go along for the ride.

Kylee Baumle said...

Terry ~ Thanks! I know...some things are just so firmly entrenched in your brain that it doesn't feel right when you go against them. But that's kind of the point our parents had when they did that, isn't it? LOL. And I love the way your mother expressed that to you! Perfect!

Diane ~ Really! She's gifted, isn't she?

Jenny Peterson said...

I have to admit I've been living under a rock for a few months. I totally know The Bloggess, but didn't know she was writing a book! After reading your review, I ordered my own copy and can't wait to keep my guy up with my laughing, too.

Alison said...

This sounds like an interesting book. I've read the Beyonce episode on her blog, but not much else that she's written. You know how sometimes fiction books are labeled "autobiographical" because some of the people or events in them resemble real events or people, but with a twist, or slight changes? I have a feeling this book is sort of the converse of that.

Catherine@AGardenerinProgress said...

I've read her blog before and I know that giant metal chicken story, very funny! Swearing doesn't bother me, sometimes "darn" just doesn't cut it :) I bet I would love her book.

Rose said...

Sounds like a great book, Kylee! I don't appreciate the f-word either, but I know it's become such a common word especially among young people. I can overlook it when reading, though, especially if the book is as humorous as this one sounds.

NellJean said...

I always feel that people who use the f word and awesome to describe everything simply lack vocabulary.

What does it mean when someone says the food is 'awesome' -- was it awesomely inedible?

Helen said...

Timely review. This is already on my must-read list, but I think you've moved it up a few places for me.

I have an extensive vocabulary of salty language for exclamations; however, I rarely use really it to describe *people* -- that's where I draw the line.

Aunt Debbi/kurts mom said...

Just made a materials request for it in the library :)

Petunia's Gardener said...

Thanks for sharing - i'll be picking up a copy. Hubby can sleep through the laughs and I'm now on sabbatical so I can stay up reading!It was nice to meet you at the Seattle flower show (I'm one of the Sagbuttees, but out of touch for a while during sabbatical prep). I'm back to posting and gardening for a few months, in between trips.
Paula

Commonweeder said...

thanks for sending me off to her blog!

Janet, The Queen of Seaford said...

Kylee, am getting caught with reading posts that I missed in my 'lull' period. I LOVE the Bloggess. My daughter turned me on to her a long time ago. We send rooster pics on our cell phones back and forth to each other. While in Asheville I posted on FB a picture of Chicken Alley with a huge rooster. We laughed so hard with that find. Oh, and I got a rooster shaped cutting board for Mother's Day, K. K. M. F. :-)
think I like the idea of being dressed in a Wonder Woman costume when I die.
I NEED to read her book, I know I do.

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