Let's Pretend This Never Happened (Lawson)

Let's Pretend This Never Happened (A Mostly True Memoir)
Jenny Lawson, 2012
Penguin Group USA
336 pp.
ISBN-13: 9780399159015



Summary
For fans of Tina Fey and David Sedaris—Internet star Jenny Lawson, aka The Bloggess, makes her literary debut.
 
Jenny Lawson realized that the most mortifying moments of our lives—the ones we’d like to pretend never happened—are in fact the ones that define us. In the #1 New York Times bestseller, Let’s Pretend This Never Happened, Lawson takes readers on a hilarious journey recalling her bizarre upbringing in rural Texas, her devastatingly awkward high school years, and her relationship with her long-suffering husband, Victor.

Chapters include: “Stanley the Magical, Talking Squirrel”; “A Series of Angry Post-It Notes to My Husband”; “My Vagina Is Fine. Thanks for Asking”; “And Then I Snuck a Dead Cuban Alligator on an Airplane.” Pictures with captions (no one would believe these things without proof) accompany the text. (From the publisher.)



Author Bio
Birth—N/A
Where—N/A
Education—B.A., Angelo State University
Currently—lives in Texas Hill Country


Jennifer Lawson is an American journalist and blogger from Wall, Texas. She is a graduate of Angelo State University. She is the author of The Bloggess and Ill Advised blogs, co-author of Good Mom/Bad Mom on the Houston Chronicle and a columnist for SexIs magazine. She is best known for her irreverent writing style. She also used to write an advice column named "Ask The Bloggess" for The Personal News Network (PNN.com) until she quit because they stopped paying her. She suffers from rheumatoid arthritis, OCD, depression and an anxiety disorder.

She was recognized by the Nielsen ratings as one of the Top 50 Most Powerful Mom Bloggers and Forbes listed thebloggess.com as one of their Top 100 Websites for Women. She was a finalist in the 2010 Weblog awards for Best Writing and Most Humorous Writer, and a finalist in the 2011 Weblog awards for Best Writing, Most Humorous Writer and Weblog of the Year. In 2011 The Huffington Post named her the "Greatest Person of the Day" for her work in raising money for struggling families in December 2010. She was also interviewed on CBC News Network's Connect with Mark Kelley during the fundraising campaign.

She has written an autobiography called Let's Pretend This Never Happened, released on April 17, 2012 by Amy Einhorn Books which was, on May 6th, 2012, the number 1 New York Times bestseller. (From Wikipedia.)



Book Reviews
Lawson relishes revealing plenty about her life, except perhaps just how much she may exaggerate about it. Fall into her writing, though, and she proves that a memoir need not be exact to be enjoyable. She removes the onus of perfectly reported recollections and leads her readers down the rabbit hole of her memories.... The result: a satisfying, blithe tale of a curious adulthood and curiouser childhood. The book skims through a series of comic essays, akin to [David] Sedaris if he were an anxiety-stricken Texas mother with a fascination with the zombie apocalypse.
Melissa Bell - Washington Post


Jenny Lawson is hilarious, snarky, witty, totally inappropriate, and ‘Like Mother Teresa, Only Better.’
Marie Claire


In punchy chapters that cover a fairly uneventful life in the southern Republican regions, blogger Lawson achieves an exaggerated sarcasm that occasionally attains a belly laugh from the reader (“I grew up a poor black girl in New York. Except replace ’black’ with ’white’ and ’New York’ with ’rural Texas’”), but mostly descends into rants about bodily functions and dead animals spiced with profanity. The daughter of a taxidermist whose avid foraging and hunting filled their “violently rural” Wall, Tex., house with motley creatures like raccoons and turkeys and later triggered some anxiety disorder, Lawson did not transcend her childhood horrors so much as return to them, marrying at age 22 a fellow student at a local San Angelo college, Victor, and settling down in the town with a job in “HR” while Victor worked “in computers.” In random anecdotal segments Lawson treats the vicissitudes of her 15-year marriage, the birth of daughter Hailey after many miscarriages, some funny insider secrets from the HR office, and an attempt to learn to trust women by spending a weekend in California wine country with a group of bloggers. With little substantive writing on these subjects, however, Lawson’s puerile sniggering and potty mouth gets old fast.
Publishers Weekly


She's famed on the Internet as the Bloggess ("like Mother Teresa, only better") and also writes an (I hope) tongue-in-check parenting column and a self-styled satirical sex column that must be sizzly because my office computer denies me access. Here, Lawson revisits her rural Texas childhood. With lots of media attention expected and comparisons to Chelsea Handler, this book is one to watch.
Library Journal


In this mordant memoir, Lawson, who calls herself “The Bloggess,” displays the wit that’s made her a hit on the Web.... Lawson, whose award-winning website, TheBloggess.com, averages more than half-a-million page-views per month, ... is funny, but her over-the-top tales eventually take their toll, prompting jaded readers to wonder how much of this stuff she’s making up.
Booklist


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).... 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.
Kirkus Reviews



Discussion Questions
1. What specific aspects of Lawson’s childhood particularly intrigued or repelled you? Is it possible to have both reactions at the same time?

2. What are some ways in which the book explores themes of individuality?

3. Were you surprised by the ending of Stanley the Magical Squirrel? Is it possible to find laughter in such horrific stories?

4. Lawson describes her hometown as “violently rural” and struggles to find a point to its existence. In your opinion, did growing up in this town help or hinder her?

5. Some reviewers have said this book is about individuality, and others feel it’s a book about family. What do you believe is the overall theme of the book?

6. Lawson and her husband have extremely different personalities, beliefs, and political backgrounds, yet they’ve managed to stay happily married. What is behind the success of their relationship? In what ways can being opposites help people in a relationship?

7. Lawson wrote about her OCD, phobias, and other mental struggles. Did this make her more or less relatable to you? Have you or has someone you know had a phobia or mental illness so severe that it affected your life?

8. Lawson made the decision to infuse humor into even her most traumatic stories of dealing with infertility, loss, and arthritis. What do you think of this choice? Have you ever used humor for healing?

9. Lawson had family members read and vet the book before it was published, giving them the opportunity to give their opinions on the writing. Is this a good idea for a memoirist? Is it ultimately stifling or respectful? Are there times when someone’s life story is not his or hers to tell?

10. What did you think about the author’s voice, her use of run–on sentences, stream–of–consciousness narrative, profanity, and invented words to create a unique narrative?

11. In the chapter about infertility, Lawson discusses her struggles with suicidal tendencies. What purpose does this section have in the narrative?

12. This book deals with mental illness, poverty, suicide, miscarriage, disease, and other traumatic subjects, yet most people consider it a humor book. Do you agree with this classification?

13. What was your favorite story? Why?

14. Of all the people described in the book, whom did you most relate to or empathize with, and why?

15. What do you think Lawson was looking for in her life? Do you think she has found it?
(Questions issued by publisher.)

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