For those of you who don’t know Augusten Burroughs, take a gander at Running With Scissors or Wolf At the Table whenever you are feeling like a giant pile of poop.
His childhood (and adulthood) will remind you of why your life is perfect!
This is a memoir (another!) of his adulthood post sobriety, though the early few pages are still him immersed in a relapse.
This memoir chronicles three very important relationships he had as an adult, including both of his marriages.
If you are familiar with him, you will appreciate his ongoing sense of humor in his writing- about his mental illness, his catastrophizing, his impulsive jewelry buying.
What is new is the love story that this memoir produces.
You’ve always rooted for him given the horrible life he’s had, and this book gives you a chance to celebrate what he’s done with it.
On top of it, he mentions that one of his therapists looks like Joyce Carol Oates from the 70s. He mentions her numerous times, and gets her style. Love him even more now.
My husband and I were lucky enough to meet him at a recent book signing and hear him read an excerpt from the beginning of the book- where he is visiting a therapist regarding his lack of sexual feelings towards his boyfriend. He’s as hilarious in person as he is on the pages. He’s also WAY MORE philosophical in person, though this excerpt is pretty amazing:
“Diamonds appeared oily upon magnification. Rubies were busy inside. Sapphires sometimes appeared to contain a galaxy, and emeralds could blind you with green. Opals reminded me of a beehive. Sometimes jade looked like sticky rice, and inside some alexandrites, it appeared to be raining.
Was it a universal truth that the closer you looked at something, the more you would see but the less you would understand what you were looking at?”
You know how sometimes you read a book, and it is so funny and awkward and true that you almost feel bad laughing out loud or sympathizing? That was me while reading Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson.
I must admit, I have not read her first book Let’s Pretend This Never Happened, though I do own it. Now I will move it to the front of the TBR list.
This is a collection of short stories/essays/journal entries/conversations from Jenny’s life. If you aren’t familiar with Ms. Lawson, just follow her blog for a taste of what you will find in her books. If you want fun Jenny Lawson swag, go here. Let’s start with the cover- a picture of a happily rabid raccoon, which is an actual taxidermied raccoon that she owns. And poses with her cats. And sleeps with. And uses to scare her husband. I’m hooked.
Then there are the stories. She makes it known from the get-go that she suffers from a myriad of mental and physical illnesses, all which rotate through her like a diseased carousal. Some days it’s hard to get out of bed. Some days her scalp is erupting. Some days she is crying in the middle of the grocery store. Some days her daughter points out her introversion and awkwardness to a room full of adults. While these are all situations that many of us can sympathize with, we certainly don’t do it with the candor and hilarity that Jenny does.
In addition are conversations she has with her husband, a seemingly sane, albeit boring-jobbed work-from-homer (much like my own husband). From naming their new cat Mr. President, to her new support pony (Pony Danza!), her gall bladder surgery and a nurse named Labia, and their visit with the accountant, their relationship isn’t that different from many of the ones we have with our own spouses- theirs is just WAY more colorful.
But she also steps back from ridiculously funny and gets ridiculously real. She shares the heartbreak of her illnesses. Of her joy in seeing none of the signs of them in her daughter. Of what it feels like to accept an invitation and immediately regret it. To feel like a hypochondriac. Imposter syndrome. To panic in the face of a life perceived to be wasted. All the things that even those who don’t suffer from mental illness can and do feel on a regular basis.
For the funniest bits, see their trip to Japan and her Japanese toilet commentary, her trip to Australia in kangaroo and koala costumes and bloody hotel carpeting, their new house in the country club and the swan attacks, 3 cat skins, and all the opossums. LOTS of opossums.
“You may ask how I know and I’ll tell you how. It’s because right now? YOU’RE READING. That’s what the sexy people do.”
“…that usually your kids’ positive qualities come less from your making them awesome and more from just not intentionally squashing the random things they’re inherently born with that make them awesome.”
“I believe it was Sartre who said, ‘Hell is other people,’ and I suspect he wrote that after spending an hour with overinvolved parents who won’t stop yelling at coaches, instructors or crying four-year-olds who really just want a snow cone.”