Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Snapshot Book Review: Let's Pretend This Never Happened

Let's Pretend This Never Happened: A Mostly True MemoirLet's Pretend This Never Happened: A Mostly True Memoir by Jenny Lawson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

If I could give this 2.5 stars, I would, but since I'm stuck choosing between 2 and 3 stars, I have to go with three, since it was--at the very least--entertaining. Unfortunately, in spite of many promises by reviewers, I never truly laughed out loud. I think I chuckled two or three times, but that was about it. Most of the time, my internal eyebrows were raised right off of my theoretical forehead.

I will say that I really appreciate the subtitle on this memoir. That "Mostly True" qualifier is really what makes the entire book stick, because whether or not the stories are true, they're all so outrageous and told in such a hyped-up manner that it's almost impossible not to go through the book thinking, "Really? That's how it went?" But since she's not claiming that it's all 100% true, we diligent and skeptical readers can relax a little and try to enjoy the ride.

I can absolutely see why some people love this book. Anyone who enjoys hyperbolic writing--such as that by Augusten Burroughs (i.e. Running With Scissors)--or over-the-top stories told in a slapdash manner--such as those by Chelsea Handler--would certainly also enjoy this book. However, comparing Lawson to David Sedaris is, in my opinion, blasphemy. She is nowhere near the storyteller he is, and apart from writing about their childhoods and families in what is meant to be a comedic style, they have almost nothing in common.

This is not to say that I thought this memoir was all bad. Personally, my favorite parts were--true or not--where she referenced her editor telling her not to write things a certain way and then doing it anyway. Of course, that's because I'm an editor myself, and I most certainly would have made many of those suggestions to her myself, had I edited her book. I wasn't nearly so keen on the arguments between her and her husband; not because they weren't funny or because they were too over exaggerated (although they were), but because they were always so negative and without resolution that I found it hard to understand why they were married at all.

All in all, I completely understand why Putnam chose to publish this book. The market for it is clear, and I'm sure it will--if it hasn't already--sell well. It just wasn't quite my cup of tea. For that, I'll stick with Sedaris.

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