Monday, October 12, 2015

Let's Pretend This Never Happened

Let's Pretend This Never Happened: A Mostly True Memoir by Jenny Lawson (2012), narrated by the author

I tried listening to this audiobook a couple of years ago and just couldn't get into it. I was rather put off by how she talked about her childhood like it was weirder than anyone else's, as though it was a competition and she was the clear winner. (You're not the only one who grew up rural and poor, Jenny Lawson, so you can't actually win this contest.) However, I've been reading her blog consistently and I really like it a lot. When her second book was about to come out I thought it was time to try her again, but I wanted to start at the beginning.

The childhood parts didn't bother me as much this time, and then the story moved forward to her marriage and daughter and various zany adventures. She shares her experiences working in human resources, where had to present a photo to a man at her company and ask "Is this your penis?" Many times. (Not the same man. Apparently using work email to send penis photos is an epidemic.) She also relates a story about attending a weekend trip with other female bloggers, where she claimed to be attacked during the night by a cougar which turned out to be just a feral cat (and surprisingly she is still friends with one of those bloggers.) Other stories center around topics such as taxidermy, stabbings, and that time she impregnated a cow with a turkey baster. A few are more serious than others, like when she recounts her miscarriages and the untimely death of her dog, Barnaby Jones Pickles, but even then she manages to insert some dark humor at some point.

My favorite parts are her conversations with her husband (this goes for her blog as well.) She and Victor seem very different: he's a rich Republican, and she's a poor Democrat; he's rational and sane, and she's hilarious and unhinged. I mean, I don't actually know what he's like and I'm very curious. In the book and on her blog he comes across as just the voice of reason (though she portrays him as the unreasonable opponent to her very twisted and hilarious logic.) A couple of chapters are devoted to their conversations, such as "A Series of Helpful Post-it Notes I Left Around the House for My Husband This Week," a one-sided conversation that began with her reminder not to leave wet towels on the floor and ended with her attempted escape from the house and their marriage until she was foiled by the dog peeing on her and her choice to drink all the booze instead of packing it. You'd have to read it to understand, much like the chapter "Phone Conversation I Had with My Husband After I Got Lost for the Eighty Thousandth Time." The re-listenability of this might rival Bridget Jones's Diary (which, come to think of it, I haven't listened to in a while.) So I'm glad I purchased it on Audible and can listen again.

She does a good job with the narration. Delivery is an important part of humor, and though I think she comes across quite well in her writing, there's nothing like actually hearing it the way it was intended. The audio version has a bonus chapter called "Balls" and then some extraneous ramblings of the "it smells like cat pee in here" and "this is why I say "vagina" instead of "vulva" variety. The book has a different bonus chapter (paperback only, apparently) called "There's a Serious Lack of Prostitutes on This Tour." So I recommend experiencing this book the way I did: listen to the audio, but have a print copy on hand so you can look at the accompanying photos and read the print bonus chapter. You'll really want both version to get the full experience.

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