If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a hundred times: if you sit next to me on public transportation, you are in danger of being chortled to death. A recent train ride home from New York with a copy of Jenny Lawson’s latest book in my hands put several passengers at risk.
This one is subtitled “A Funny Book About Horrible Things,” and that seems fairly accurate. Lawson is very open about her struggles with mental illness. And yet the book is not sad or depressing. It’s honest, humble, and—like her previous work, Let’s Pretend This Never Happened—often hilarious. As a coping skill, she has a way of looking at ordinary things that brings out their inherent funniness. Here’s just one example:
“There are few things in the world that make me angrier than poverty, the lack of basic human civil rights, and the fact that most women’s clothes don’t have pockets. Obviously the first two are more pressing, but the pockets thing is pretty irritating too.” She carries this argument forward by discussing it vehemently with her husband, Victor, who once again plays the perfect straight man to her “outrage.” You never get the feeling that she is really angry, just that she likes to argue about silly things possibly for the same reason that some people go to the gym or take long walks: to let off steam.
Many of us—if not all of us—know someone who struggles with anxiety, depression, or some other form of mental illness. This book is funny. But it is also helpful and important in what it reveals about what that person may be going through.
PS– Jenny Lawson also writes a blog called The Bloggess.