Recommendation: Tales from backwoods Texas are almost always going to be hilarious. But if you put Jenny Lawson at the helm with her frantic wit and neurotic thoughts, then you get a book that makes you laugh out loud and need to excuse yourself for the bathroom.
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This “mostly true” memoir comes from a very popular blogger and very funny writer. Jenny Lawson grew up in the extremely rural town of Wall, Texas, where her father opened his own taxidermy business and exposed young Jenny to such childhood dreams as getting stuck inside the carcass of a deer and having a live bobcat thrown on her significant others. Naturally, Lawson isn’t exactly an average lady, but she approaches her well deserved neuroses and obsessions with a broad sense of humor and enough charm to keep you glued to the page.
Before picking up Let’s Pretend This Never Happened, it’s probably important that you understand Lawson as a blogger. She’s a particularly funny blogger, but still a blogger. So don’t expect a traditionally set memoir or a grammar obsessed connoisseur of the “right way” to write a sentence. Lawson is a writer of my own heart. Proper sentence structure and a linear narrative are not nearly as important as a fun romp through the alarming memories or bizarre occurrences of Lawson’s everyday life. If she wants to address the reader directly, she does it. If she wants to rebuild that fourth wall for the sake of a story, she does it. It’s an anything goes atmosphere and it only heightens the enjoyment that you’ll get out of this book.
One area that Lawson particularly excels at is delivering punch lines. A lot of the humor I come across leaves the reader on Ice, and it’s a great relief to stumble upon somebody who knows how to deliver that one jolting line. And that’s not to say that the buildup isn’t funny in itself, because it definitely is. Lawson has a unique ability to keep you entertained while explaining situations (usually by adding little bits of flair from her inner ramblings) and then hit you right in the gut when she gets to the crux of that matter. It’s an effect that I’ve found lacking even in humor books that I’ve enjoyed.
But what makes this book a cut above all your other humor options is the heightened stereotypes pervading the story. We all hear jokes about Texans being obsessed with guns and hunting and whatnot, but Lawson’s father takes those rumors up a notch. Every story of Lawson’s childhood is filled with such unbelievably bizarre exclamations and actions from her father that you can’t help but laugh at the absurdity of it all. These stories also help serve as a backdrop for Lawson’s eventual encounter with semi-normal Americans, and her inability to think things all the way through lets loose her abnormal history on everyone around her. Sprinkle in a seemingly inherited obsession with formerly alive animals, and you have a perfect concoction for a book that will grab you by the funny bone and never let go.