Review: Let’s Pretend This Never Happened

lets pretend this never happenedLet’s pretend this never happened. Jenny Lawson. Claman Medical Humanities Collection, Carl and Kay Bartecchi Special Collections, Health Sciences Library, 3rd Floor

(CD sound recording)  |  (Print copy)

What makes us “human”?  Jenny Lawson thinks it’s all those awkward social moments that help us realize the unique qualities that make us special, or maybe it’s just owning our unique social awkwardness, special or not.  She writes with some authority on the subject, and the word quirky may not go far enough to describe Lawson. Her central Texas childhood in an odd but loving family certainly prepared her to accept the extraordinary as ordinary. Or maybe it left her unable to distinguish ordinary from extraordinary.  It also formed the basis for her “there-is-no-box” creative invention, and provided much material for her popular and long running weblog, where she’s known as The Bloggess.  She has parlayed her success on the web into a new memoir, elaborating on blog entries and including some new and original material.

Lawson’s distinctive style includes lots of charming and interesting asides, tangents, and parentheticals, but she always comes back to her central point eventually.  The written equivalent of a Mobius strip, her style can really be best appreciated listening to her read the audio version.  Pop the CD into the player on the way to work and you’ll find the traffic melts away as you become snared by her engaging tales of childhood, her struggles with mental illness and rheumatoid arthritis, relationships, and motherhood.  She shares comic adventures that have a bittersweet undertone and tragedies tinged with humor that has been described as “seriously funny”.  This unique mix comes through especially well as she describes her severe shyness and an anxiety disorder, anorexia, her miscarriages due to a rare disorder, and her struggles to cope with rheumatoid arthritis.  She makes most eccentrics look like posers as she recounts the odd behavior of her taxidermist father and the cocktail-party-inappropriate conversations that are brought on by her anxiety disorder. Most readers will probably think she’d be a marvelous antidote to typical party small talk, but I’m not sure many could cope with an extended encounter with the author!

Listening to the audiobook or reading the print version, you may come to agree with Lawson that “fitting in” is pretty over-rated.  It’s how we don’t fit that keeps life interesting!


[Lynne M. Fox, Education Librarian]