Sunday, October 25, 2015

Furiously Happy

Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things by Jenny Lawson (2015)

Jenny Lawson's first book, Let's Pretend This Never Happened, was a memoir taking us from her childhood through her marriage and motherhood. Her follow-up is less of a memoir and more a collection of essays, and they focus primarily on her battles with mental illness. But don't think that means it isn't funny: it's just as hilarious as the first one.

In addition to mental illness, the subject matter includes: her trip to Australia, the lack of pockets on women's clothing, Japanese toilets, why The President would be a great name for a cat, and her epiphany that everything in the world either is or isn't pandas. She recounts narrating the first audio book and how terribly she did until she contacted her friend Neil Gaiman (as you do) who gave her advice to just act like she was good at it. I also noticed a bit of reused material from the first book, like the time her cat digested a toy with a bell on it so that when he pooped it out the sound scared him and he ended up running around with a jangling bell hanging out of his butt. The story may have been familiar, but you know, I still laughed at it again.

I listened to it right after listening to the first book, so it's a bit difficult to separate them in my mind. She does not sing the chapter titles this time, which is something I forgot to mention when I posted about the last book. Some reviewers really disliked that she did it, but I found it helpful because it really stood out that a new chapter was stating when my mind wandered from the audio as it tends to do.

Lawson has a pretty strong sense of exceptionalism, which I noted in my last post in terms of her crazy childhood. It seems to also extend to her struggles as an adult. While I realize that we are all special snowflakes, we still have more that unites us than makes us different. Even mental illnesses don't define everything about the person who has them. She seems surprised at the number of people who relate to her, but I think we are all insecure and afraid and screwed up in one way or another. The people she points to who are different from her because they have their shit together - I don't think they exist, they just hide their imperfections better. Sometimes she seems to know this, and sometimes she doesn't. But this is a tangent and doesn't detract from my enjoyment of her writing.

I wish I could quote some of the passages to you, so you can get a taste for her sense of humor if you're unfamiliar with it, but you really have to hear it all in context. These aren't one-liners, they are fully rambling stories that build on each other until they get unbelievably ridiculous. If you want a taste, visit her blog. Her style is not for everyone, but if she's your sort of writer, you'll know right away.


Unknown said...

I keep seeing Lawson's books around - the covers just make me smile! I'm not sure the humor will be to my taste, but I really should get around to trying one at some point. You make them sound fun :-)

3goodrats said...

They are definitely fun!