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The older couple, who lived up the street, would pack up the truck on Sunday night and troll people's trash for treasures. Treasures like Betty Boop paraphernalia, which lined the walls in such numbers that you couldn't see the paint. The matriarch of the family next door had a bingo addiction so fierce that she would hit up two games a night. And the brother of a friend did things to Barbies that I didn't understand until I saw "Clerks."
And yet, it was my father's addition to our animal menagerie that made us the weirdest family on our street in a fairly urban area of Cincinnati.
A stuffed raccoon. Which was placed strategically on the 55-gallon fish tank, filled with goldfish-eating Oscars, that he used as a room divider between the living and dining areas of our small ranch.
And so it was great empathy that I read "Let's Pretend This Never Happened" by Jenny Lawson, better known as The Bloggess.
When Jenny Lawson was little, all she ever wanted was to fit in. That dream was cut short by her fantastically unbalanced father and a morbidly eccentric childhood. It did, however, open up an opportunity for Lawson to find the humor in the strange shame-spiral that is her life, and we are all the better for it. In the irreverent "Let’s Pretend This Never Happened," Lawson’s long-suffering husband and sweet daughter help her uncover the surprising discovery that the most terribly human moments—the ones we want to pretend never happened—are the very same moments that make us the people we are today. For every intellectual misfit who thought they were the only ones to think the things that Lawson dares to say out loud, this is a poignant and hysterical look at the dark, disturbing, yet wonderful moments of our lives.There are times as a writer – one who has published both non-fiction and fiction – when I read something and go, “Holy crap! I wish I could write like this person.”
And that’s exactly what happened as I read "Let's Pretend This Never Happened."
Lawson’s eccentric childhood tales are made to be told – from the squirrel puppet to “pet” turkeys following her to school – but what makes them, all strung together, a good book is her unforgiving, almost offensive writing style. It is laugh-out-loud funny, and I often found myself reciting passages to Mark as he tried to grade papers on the couch ... and drive ... and do the dishes. Lawson writes in such a way that you feel as if you are having a glass of wine (or several bottles) with an old and recounting the atrocities inflicted upon you by your parents.
Except most parents don’t throw a semi-docile bobcat on your future spouse.
I guess that this would be a good place to mention that this book is not for you if you are sensitive to the treatment of animals, are easily offended, do not like the use of swear words, never fight with your spouse or don’t see humor in those arguments and were never scarred by your parents.
As for me, my dad threw a dead Beta fish in my hair thinking it was a dried, crumply leaf and let our pet bird fly around the house for funsies as I locked myself in the bathroom in terror. Scarred and hard to offend, I am.
You can find out more about Jenny Lawson's "Let's Pretend This Never Happened" on the BlogHer Book Club page and join the discussion.. If you would like to read an interview with Lawson, you can find it here.