Jenny Lawson is The Blogess and this is her “Mostly True” memoir. After I tried and failed horribly to describe this book to my husband, I finally read him this paragraph, which opens the first chapter.
Call me Ishmael. I won’t answer to it, because it’s not my name, but it’s much more agreeable than most of the things I’ve been called. “Call me ‘that weird chick who says fuck a lot’” is probably more accurate, but Ishmael seems classier, and it makes a way more respectable beginning than the sentence I’d originally written, which was about how I’d just run into my gynecologist at Starbucks and she totally looked right past me like she didn’t even know me. And so I stood there wondering whether that’s something she does on purpose to make her clients feel less uncomfortable, or whether she just genuinely didn’t recognize me without my vagina. Either way, it’s very disconcerting when people who’ve been inside your vagina don’t acknowledge your existence. Also, I just want to clarify that I don’t mean “without my vagina” like I didn’t have it with me at the time. I just meant that I wasn’t, you know… displaying it while I was at Starbucks. That’s probably understood, but I thought I should clarify, since it’s the first chapter and you don’t know that much about me. So just to clarify, I always have my vagina with me. It’s like my American Express card. (In that I don’t leave home without it. Not that I use it to buy stuff with.)
It’s tough to describe this book but here are two thoughts.
1) Lawson made me feel terribly sane and normal by comparison.
2) Lawson’s comments about bloggers being generally screwed up also made me feel better. I may not be a published writer but I AM in the ranks of the “misanthropic misfits” (as in: most of us turn to blogging because we’re emotionally unstable and awkward in social situations).
Lawson is someone I sympathized with some of the time, and disliked some of the time. There were times where Lawson just felt self-centered, like she just has to make sure you know no one else is as interesting as she is. I’ll admit to some jealousy here – how many people get to stay home and blog and become super-successful?
This book is at its best when Lawson gets out of her own head and describes actual events – like running into a deer sweater, waving a machete at vultures in her backyard, searching for a zombie graveyard, and being stabbed by a chicken breast. I love her husband and I also loved that she admits to not relating to most women. There are also a few moments that are genuinely heartbreaking.
What Lawson doesn’t write about is her blogging career, which disappointed me. I suppose the assumption is that you already read her blog, but since I haven’t, I really wanted to know what made her quit her job to be a writer. How did she start blogging and how did it become so successful? (For a great memoir that’s partly about blogging, check out Wil Wheaton’s Just a Geek.)
Is Lawson a good writer? She’s f-ing amazing (just don’t read her book if you mind profanity). She writes like some of my friends talk, and says the things you wish people really said.
And, this book has pictures – great ones. I may never look at a dog again without seeing if it has a bunny hidden in its head wrinkles. I’m still laughing at the picture of the giant metal chicken at the front door.
I love that you have no idea what I’m talking about. If you’re wondering, this whole book is pretty much like that.