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LET'S PRETEND THIS NEVER HAPPENED by Jenny Lawson

LET'S PRETEND THIS NEVER HAPPENED

(A Mostly True Memoir)

By Jenny Lawson

Pub Date: April 17th, 2012
ISBN: 978-0-399-15901-5
Publisher: Amy Einhorn/Putnam

A mostly funny, irreverent memoir on the foibles of growing up weird.

In blogger Lawson’s debut book, “The Bloggess” (thebloggess.com) relies entirely on her life stories to drive an unconventional narrative. While marketed as nonfiction, it’s a genre distinction the author employs loosely (a point made clear in the book’s subtitle). On the opening page she defends the subtitle, explaining, “The reason this memoir is only mostly true instead of totally true is that I relish not getting sued.” Yet Lawson also relishes exaggerative storytelling, spinning yarns of her childhood and early adulthood that seem so unbelievable they could hardly be made up. Nearly every line is an opportunity for a punch line—“Call me Ishmael. I won’t answer to it, because it’s not my name, but it’s much more agreeable that most of the things I’ve been called”; “And that’s how I ended up shoulder-deep in a cow’s vagina”; “there’s nothing more romantic than a proposal that ends with you needing a tetanus shot”—and while the jokes eventually wear thin, by that point readers will be invested in Lawson herself, not just her ability to tell a joke. The author’s use of disclaimers, editorial notes and strike-thrus leaves the book feeling oddly unfinished, though it’s a calculated risk that serves well as an inside joke shared between writer and reader at the expense of the literary elite.

While Lawson fails to strike the perfect balance between pathos and punch line, she creates a comic character that readers will engage with in shocked dismay as they gratefully turn the pages.