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Audiobook Review: ‘Let’s Pretend This Never Happened’ by Jenny Lawson

Audiobook Review: ‘Let’s Pretend This Never Happened’ by Jenny Lawson post image

Title: Let’s Pretend This Never Happened (A Mostly True Memoir)
Author/Narrator: Jenny Lawson
Genre: Memoir
Year: 2012
Publisher: Penguin Audio
Acquired: Purchased
Rating: ★★★½☆

Book Review: I think it’s sort of hard to me to review Let’s Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson because I may not be the target audience for this book. I’ve never been a regular reader of Lawson’s very popular blog, The Bloggess, so I can’t really remember why I decided to make this book one of my first Audible purchases except that everyone who does read The Bloggess seems to really love her. Still, I wasn’t really sure what to expect with the book.

And you know what? I’m not exactly sure what I thought of the book, other than that I enjoyed the time I spent listening to it.

Despite all of the hype that Lawson is totally hilarious, I didn’t think the book was laugh out loud funny. But I also don’t have a tendency to be a laugh out loud kind of girl for the kind of in-your-face humor that Lawson seems to love. I don’t want to call her humor vulgar because the jokes aren’t really offensive, but Lawson does love to talk about her vagina a lot.

In addition to the humor, Lawson also spends a good amount of time talking about some more serious issues like her severe social anxiety and challenges with her family. There is a little unevenness with the book, trying to balance the humorous and the serious, but I think on the whole it works more often than it doesn’t. There are other female writers in this sort of humorous essay genre that fit a little better with my sensibilities, but on the whole I liked this book.

Audio Review: I have very mixed feelings about the choice to have Jenny Lawson narrate this book. On the one hand, I totally understand that the people who are regular readers of Lawson’s blog would want and even expect her to read her own book. There’s just something so distinctive about her writing voice that almost demands she do the narration herself. Frankly, I’m not even sure the book producers had a choice on this front.

However, I didn’t always feel like Lawson was doing her book justice as a narrator. She has a really distinctive drawl and way of dropping syllables in words that I found a little grating after awhile. She also speaks really, really fast and sort of seems to muddle through some sections of the book. Since I’m not familiar with Lawson’s blog, I wouldn’t have noticed or minded a more experienced narrator, but if you know The Bloggess, the novelty of hearing Lawson narrate will probably overcome what I perceived as shortcomings in the style.

Other Reviews:

If you have reviewed this book, please leave a link to the review in the comments and I will add your review to the main post. All I ask is for you to do the same to mine — thanks!

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • jennakathepickygirl August 1, 2012, 7:55 am

    I used to read her blog, but the schtick gets old after a while. I finally gave up on this audio this weekend. I had listened to two hours of it, and the voice combined with the utter lack of arc to each chapter annoyed me.

    I agree that she had to narrate, but the rise and fall of her voice didn’t really fit what she was reading. And singing the chapters? I groaned every time.

    But back to my biggest issue. The reason I really enjoy Sarah Vowell and David Sedaris and even Sara Benincasa is that there may be a ton of humor, but the goal of the essays or chapters or books *isn’t* humor. There’s something more being said. However, in many many of Lawson’s chapters, there didn’t seem to be anything else. And ultimately, that’s why I gave it up.

    • Kim August 1, 2012, 12:44 pm

      That’s a great way of putting it, Jenn. One of my college professors used to talk about this idea of shallow writing with the phrase “there isn’t a lot of there there.” Straight-up funny writing can work, but I agree there has to be a little more, or at least a balance between the funny and the something more.

      Edited to add: One of my favorite chapters was about her social anxiety diagnosis, and her writing about what it’s like to deal with the world when you have that type of illness. It was very funny, but also offered that something extra that humor writing needs.

  • bermudaonion(Kathy) August 1, 2012, 11:57 am

    I didn’t love this book like so many people have. I thought the humor got old and much of the drama was created by the author. At one point, it seemed like she was trying to see how many times she could get the word vagina into the book.

    • Kim August 1, 2012, 12:47 pm

      Maybe the book was just about 50 pages too long, and the novelty of her sense of humor (and discussions of vaginas) can’t quite stand up to the length of the book.

  • Nikki August 1, 2012, 12:23 pm

    I’m pretty skeptical of humorous books when it comes right down to it. Most I feel as a waste of time or something to read in between other books. Maybe that’s just the book snob in me, I don’t know. I agree with the previous reviewer that humor is only exciting when it’s not meant to be straight humor, but rather another way to show story or whathaveyou.

    Are there any humorous books that I’m missing out there though that do deserve a read?

    • Kim August 1, 2012, 12:49 pm

      I go back and forth on humor writing. Some I really like, and others tend to be more of a miss. I recently read Mindy Kaling’s memoir, which is pretty light but I thought quite good. I’m try to think of other funny books I’ve read recently… and I’m coming up blank. Can anyone else help with this?

  • Stephanie August 1, 2012, 6:54 pm

    I have been an off and on reader of The Bloggess, and I appreciate your balanced review of this book. I’m not sure whether it would be my cup of tea or not. It sounds like the kind of thing you have to be in exactly the right mood for, somehow.

  • Jennifer August 2, 2012, 9:03 am

    I love to read humor but it’s truer and funnier if there is some meat to the story that’s being told.

    I haven’t read this book, I might pick it up at some point. (If only because I’m sorta in love with the cover)

    Mindy Kaling’s memoir was pretty good, Tina Fey’s book was even better.