Have you heard of Jenny Lawson? No? Well, maybe you have heard of The Bloggess. If you tweet, it is almost impossible NOT to have heard about her. She has 230,000 followers, and she gets retweeted ALOT.
From a casual blog-reading perspective, I knew she did strange things. She bought a large metal chicken for her home, that is named Beyonce and now has its own Facebook page. She is quite famous for throwing around a picture of Wil Wheaton collating a stack of blank paper (there is a story behind it, of course). She tests her "long-suffering husband" with her antics. But I never really understood what she was about, what her history was, and whether this whole bizarre persona was an act, an attempt at getting attention, or for real.
I now consider myself fully informed. And totally gobsmacked. Allow me to present you with an enigma.
Synopsis: Jenny Lawson has lived a bizarre life. Except that while she was growing up, she thought it was all normal. Live cougars running through her house. Her father using a dead squirrel as a puppet (yes, his hand was IN it) to entertain Jenny and her little sister. Wearing plastic bread bags on her feet for shoes. It was only when she moved away from home, and she got strange looks from her friends, did she figure out she was "different" and didn't always fit in.
Her story moves forward to her courtship with her now husband. He came from the right side of the tracks, so it is no surprise that more hilarity ensues when Jenny first meets his parents, or his parents meet Jenny's taxidermist father (stories to include pillow etiquette and boiling skulls). The metal chicken, a cautionary tale about husbands picking their battles. Fights over wet towels, waged back and forth via sticky notes. The birth of their daughter. Becoming a blogger.
In between generating ceaseless belly-laughs, Jenny is also candid and earnest about her struggles with anxiety, depression, eating disorders and a string of miscarriages. Jenny puts herself out there, detailing the toll all of these health issues have had on her, the pursuit of the right medications, and the importance of support.
So if your brand of humor leans towards inappropriate, profane, filterless rambling of a bizarre and strangely lovable woman (that just happens to be hilarious), you won't want to miss this.
My thoughts: For the first few discs of this audio, I found myself trying to psycho-analyze Jenny. Is she for real? Is she making this up? Is she SANE? Then I just had to let go and ride her wave. I'm not sure that she falls into a category, at least not one I've ever heard of.
At the end of the book, I came to the following conclusions:
* Jenny is the queen of over-reaction and exaggeration and high drama. Usually. If she falls down and and cuts herself on a piece of dried chicken dog treat, it is a huge story. If her cat scratches her face while she is sleeping, she talks for 20 minutes about how she thought she was attacked by a serial killer. It is this gift of over-reaction, though, coupled with her ability to spin a yarn, that makes her so damn entertaining. I am convinced that she could make ANYONE'S life seem wack. Even mine.
* Jenny doesn't always over-react though. Sometimes the things that happen to her ARE bad. I think. She did get attacked by dogs, and had to have stitches. Her dog does die and she had to fight off vultures with a machete (or at least with a sharp object of some kind).
* She really did have a father with a crazy sense of humor who loved animals. She just spins it better than most people. I know using a dead squirrel as a puppet seems perverse, but I honestly had an uncle who I could see doing that. Jenny is just a genius at using what she has and entertaining us with it.
* Jenny has real health issues, and I say brava to her for exposing herself for the benefit of helping others. That made her human and lovable.
* Only at the very end of the audio did I discover that this is an Amy Einhorn book. But OF COURSE, I always like to say. Of course. I should have known. Amy Einhorn and her people are brilliant at finding the treasures.
A few words about the audio production: I only have two words to say. Jenny. Narrates.
Only Jenny could narrate this. In her high-pitched, childlike voice, she delivers the goods. She has joined the esteemed list of authors like David Sedaris, Sarah Vowell and Tina Fey who should only be experienced audibly.
4.5 out of 5 stars