Published by Pan Macmillan on September 24th 2015
Genres: Biography & Autobiography, General, Humor, Personal Memoirs
In Let's Pretend This Never Happened, Jenny Lawson regaled readers with uproarious stories of her bizarre childhood. In her new book, Furiously Happy, she explores her lifelong battle with mental illness. A hysterical, ridiculous book about crippling depression and anxiety? That sounds like a terrible idea. And terrible ideas are what Jenny does best.As Jenny says: 'You can't experience pain without also experiencing the baffling and ridiculous moments of being fiercely, unapologetically, intensely and (above all) furiously happy.' It's a philosophy that has - quite literally - saved her life.Jenny's first book, Let's Pretend This Never Happened, was ostensibly about family, but deep down it was about celebrating your own weirdness. Furiously Happy is a book about mental illness, but under the surface it's about embracing joy in fantastic and outrageous ways. And who doesn't need a bit more of that?
So, once again, my sister and I had the opportunity to seek out Jenny Lawson and get signed books. This time however, we also got to hear her speak and read. We also encountered some of the weird counter-culture that Lawson seems to attract.
But let’s start with the book. Furiously Happy is not nearly as funny as Let’s Pretend This Never Happened, but I will venture to say that it is infinitely more important. The essays in the book on mental health were so raw, so real, and so incredibly honest it was almost painful to hear her read them in the auditorium. While not as painful to read them on my own – they did have a sense of heartache surrounding them, more so when you consider that one in four Americans is affected by mental illness and there is still such shame and stigma surrounding it.
Furiously Happy starts out strong, but then as the chapters roll on it begins to fizzle out. Interspersed in the book are essays having little or nothing to do with mental illness that feel a bit forced in an attempt at levity, which admittedly, perhaps Furiously Happy needs to be bearable at all, so painful and honest are the essays concerning Lawson’s mental health.
So then there was the question and answer session and the book signing. Lawson’s presentation on stage was engaging and wonderful. The fans she attracts are… devoted, to say the least. Not that it can be blamed on Lawson, but many of the questions weren’t questions at all — they were long personal stories that I can’t imagine much of the audience cared about. However Lawson responded to each anecdote with poise and charm. Despite her anxiety issues, she is a complete pro. A memorable part of the evening was when her husband Victor called and she decided to take the call on speakerphone. Why yes I did take video of it…
You may recall last time I had a book signed by Lawson I asked her to sign it as Stephen King. I cursed myself while waiting in line to get Furiously Happy signed that I failed to bring a Stephen King book with me for her to sign as herself. C’est la vie.
Overall the night was a success and while Furiously Happy does have its weaknesses, I definitely think that it’s important for the normalization of mental illness the way the world stands today.
Monika at A Lovely Bookshelf had a completely different take on things, however.
What about you, Reader? Do you enjoy Lawson’s blog? What’s your take?