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Furiously happy, a funny book about horrible things by Jenny Lawson.

May 31, 2017

The bloggess, after a photo on the back cover of the book. 

I bought this book a few months ago after seeing a reference to it in the guardian review section, and I’m so glad I did.

Jenny Lawson (AKA the blogess. Her blog is here: writes in a style that is utterly unique. There’s a clear love of language here, even extending to creating words of the author’s own creation that become running jokes in their own right.The nonstop barrage of stuffed animals, misheard or invented verbage and beautiful misunderstandings is an absolute torrent of joy. There are times when it gets a bit much- this is probably not a book you want to read in one sitting. Some of the best bits are the quotes from little notes to herself that the author writes, a process she describes as ‘like being stalked by a madwoman- myself’. The style of writing is also incredibly fresh and contemporary- often it feels like one half of a long conversation with the author. Perhaps a drunken or heavily medicated conversation. The reader is taken right into the creative process that spawned this book, dealing with late-night antics and episodes of writer’s block.

There are, of course, real moments of darkness here. This is, after all, a funny book about horrible things. The chapter titled ‘the fear’ is a particular case in point. The opening line is chilling: “Some stories aren’t meant to be told”. These moments act as a useful counterpoint to the hilarious sections. There are real, deep life lessons to be learnt from reading this book. Only those with real dark shadows in their lives, it seems, can depict the world with lightness and joy. Re-reading the final chapter, ‘It might be easier. But it wouldn’t be better.’ is a wonderful way to lift your spirits.

There are a lot of animals in this book, both dead and stuffed and live and hissing at you. The star, of course, is Rory the racoon, the dead animal on the book’s cover If you want to convulse with laughter, read the section where he makes his appearance during a conference call. And there’s an untamed, riotous, animal, quality to the book too.

You might expect a book about the author’s battle with depression and anxiety to be rather self-involved. Not a bit of it. Clearly, the author feels for her long-suffering husband, who acts as a heroically patient foil to the more insane pieces of invention. Various friends of the author make appearances. There is clearly an ability to see past her own situation and use it to make a little more sense of the world- a valuable trait in any work of art. This book really is atrociously funny, but it’s also disarmingly wise. And amazingly honest. You feel like nothing has been spared in the author’s life.

This is not just a book. It’s both a lifestyle and a battlecry against the illnesses that plague the author. When you read about her trips to Australia in an attempt to hug chlamydia-laden koala bears and her relationships with taxidermied animals, you see quite how far the bloggess has come in her quest to be ‘furiously happy’.

Get it. It’s good. This is in fact the second book by the bloggess, and I’m itching to get the first one now.


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  1. love the drawing

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