Review | Monday 23 April 2012
Jenny Lawson, aka The Bloggess, has written a memoir. Self-described as ‘Little House on the Prairie but with more cursing’, Lawson seeks to both mortify and endear her readers with her sharp, smutty prose. ‘Like laughing at a funeral,’ claims the back cover. Like laughing at a very filthy funeral, indeed.
Let’s Pretend This Never Happened takes the reader from Lawson’s childhood in rural West Texas, to her current life in, well, rural West Texas. For every humiliating story a reader could have about their childhood, Lawson has two more, three times as unbelievable, and four times more humiliating. With chapters entitled ‘I Was A Three-Year Old Arsonist’ and ‘If You Need an Arm Condom, It Might be Time to Reevaluate Some of Your Life Choices’, you’d be hard pressed to find something that doesn’t make you want to roll around on the floor with laughter. It’s a sincere book too, including many stories of her relationship to Victor, her husband, whom she clearly loves dearly enough to lock out of the car with a rattlesnake in the dark (look, you just have to read the book).
Towards the end the memoir lags, as Lawson presents us with chapter after chapter of arguments that seem to get more hyperbolic as the stories become more domestic. The real star of this book is Lawson’s father: a gun-toting taxidermist who delights in bringing home stray bobcats and boiling raccoon skulls in the backyard. An incident involving a ‘magical squirrel’ caused this reviewer’s jaw to drop in shock. Other horrors that Lawson’s father exposes her to include running inside of a deer and being chased to school by toothless ‘quails’. They say that the most unbelievable stories are those that are true: thank goodness they all happened to Lawson.
Nicole Lee is a writer and actor living in Melbourne. When she is not prancing around a stage or writing furtively at the back of a café, she can be found working at Readings St Kilda.