"The Bloggess" brings zany style to memoir

Reuters News
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Posted: Apr 12, 2012 6:18 PM
"The Bloggess" brings zany style to memoir

By Andrea Burzynski

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A taxidermist, a donkey named Jasper, and Teddy Roosevelt all walked into a bar in Texas. For anyone but award-winning blogger Jenny Lawson, this would sound like the beginning of a joke, but for her, it's just another incident from her life.

In her debut novel, "Let's Pretend This Never Happened: (A Mostly True Memoir)," Lawson, a.k.a. "The Bloggess," shares hilarious anecdotes about her unusual childhood in rural Texas, the idiosyncrasies of her marriage, and her own propensity for blurting out comically inappropriate thoughts at awkward times.

The book, which hits shelves in the United States on April 17, takes cues from the memoirs of Tina Fey and David Sedaris in its stream-of-consciousness sharing of bizarre and humorous incidents from the author's life.

Though her popular blog, TheBloggess.com, receives 2-3 million hits per month and has been recognized by Forbes as one of the top websites for women, Lawson had actually begun her book for more personal reasons prior to taking up blogging.

"I wanted to remember all of these family stories, and I wanted to have it so that I could one day give it to my daughter," she told Reuters.

She said that blogging was a way to get herself in the routine of writing everyday. Though it is written from her trademark zany perspective, Lawson says that the contents of the book are almost entirely distinct from her blog.

"I'm really proud that the majority of the book is brand-new," she said. "I think it's going to give the people who read the blog a much better perspective of exactly why I'm as bizarre as I am, and where I came from."

Lawson begins her memoir with stories from her upbringing, which includes wearing shoes made of bread sacks, inseminating a cow, and being humiliated by a turkey that followed her to school.

As an adult, she finds herself arguing with her husband about whether Jesus was a zombie, attempting to remain deadpan while questioning employees at her workplace about photos of their genitals, and killing party conversations by blurting out her disapproval of necrophilia.

All of the people mentioned in the book read it and approved it before it was published, Lawson assured. Referring to the title, she said that the book is "90 percent true" because "everyone has different memories," but that the most outrageous incidents are the ones least likely to be exaggerated.

In one such story, her father, a taxidermist, decided to bring his pet donkey into the bar where he was meeting a friend who was impersonating Teddy Roosevelt. The reason? Her father was unsure of the local laws on leaving donkeys in vehicles.

"For them it's such a normal thing," she said, referring to her parents. "It doesn't dawn on them that normal people don't take donkeys into bars with Teddy Roosevelt impersonators. For them, that's just like going to the movies."

In the preface, Lawson describes the book as "a love letter to my family," and said that she eventually realized that the experiences that she most wanted to forget are actually the ones that made her who she is.

"One of the main things that my parents taught me that I didn't include in the book was that to truly be polite, to be a true gentlewoman, is to make everyone feel comfortable with themselves," she said.

"That's the reason why both my mom and my dad have great stories, and I would like to think I've inherited some of that as well."

Law believes that we should all embrace the experiences that we want to pretend never happened, and have a sense of humor about life.

"If you can't laugh at it, then you're going to cry," she said. "It's the ability to look at something and laugh about it that turns something that's a monster into something that's so much smaller and so much easier to deal with."

(Reporting By Andrea Burzynski, Editing by Christine Kearney)