I have read the Emma Jameson story, and it’s bad-ass. I will be reviewing this when I’ve finished.
Mental illness is a serious topic. As you know, I make an effort not to be serious about much of anything, except books. You may have already guessed that I am mentally ill. I would love to be able to make light of my illness here, as I try to do in my daily life. However, I am no Jenny Lawson. I could not hope to make you laugh so much if I stood in front of a cream pie throwing machine for the rest of my life, and that doesn’t sound very much like fun anyway. I’m going to talk to you about her amazing book, Let’s Pretend This Never Happened.
I probably would never have chosen this book for myself. My one concession to humor is usually Terry Pratchett, although every good book should have some amusing moments. My dear friend Stephanie Abbott gifted me with it on my birthday recently. As she is frequently the person to whom I vent, she has a unique insight to my inner self, and knew I’d enjoy it. Since she does know me so well, I decided to give it a try. It did take me a little bit to get to, mostly due to a piece of fan fiction I’ve been writing. I should probably not admit that to you, but I have promised to be straight up!
In the interest of that transparency, my illness is called Borderline Personality Disorder, although there is some pressure to change the name since the reputation of this disorder is terrifying to medical professionals and laymen alike. Emotional Dysregulation Disorder is leading the pack. I am pretty sure “Drama Queen Disorder” is not in the running, but that is certainly how other people perceive it. It’s rarely amusing, and only a great deal of medication enables me to live a semi-normal life. There are other things that might help, but in this great nation, the only things you get on charity are prescriptions for which you must then figure out how to pay. That part is pretty funny, if your sense of humor runs dark. I don’t think you’ll have to be mad to enjoy Ms. Lawson’s work, but it certainly is meaningful to those of us who are.
According to the Amazon blurb: “Jenny Lawson realized that the most mortifying moments of our lives—the ones we’d like to pretend never happened—are in fact the ones that define us. In the #1 New York Times bestseller, Let’s Pretend This Never Happened, Lawson takes readers on a hilarious journey recalling her bizarre upbringing in rural Texas, her devastatingly awkward high school years, and her relationship with her long-suffering husband, Victor. Chapters include: “Stanley the Magical, Talking Squirrel”; “A Series of Angry Post-It Notes to My Husband”; “My Vagina Is Fine. Thanks for Asking”; “And Then I Snuck a Dead Cuban Alligator on an Airplane.” Pictures with captions (no one would believe these things without proof) accompany the text.”
It’s obvious from this that Ms. Lawson squarely belongs on the Irreverent Book Blog, and indeed nearly every word of this amazing book has that irreverent quality. The blurb, however, cannot begin to convey how hilarious Let’s Pretend This Never Happened actually is. There are very few things in my life, other than drug fueled late night conversations, that have made me scream with laughter. Ms. Lawson accomplished that on almost every page. Some of her stories are very different from the life that I have lived, but the attitude she brings to them is so familiar, it’s like having conversations with a good friend. If you’ve ever enjoyed one of those moments where you laugh until you literally cannot breathe, you will know that the effect this book may have on you. I suggest you don’t read it while loved ones are asleep. I might also suggest that unless you have a tablet, getting this book in paper form might be advisable. My Kindle didn’t do the pictures justice! I almost wish I had a higher rating than Heavenly to give this book, but that will have to do.
You may recall my introductory interview with my good friend, Rosemary O’Malley. Probably, as it was only a couple of blogs ago, LOL. Anyhow, I am not the only one who thinks she’s bad-ass!
“Harry Potter is all about confronting fears, finding inner strength and doing what is right in the face of adversity … Twilight is about how important it is to have a boyfriend.”
— Robin Browne
This quote has been attributed to Stephen King. No matter who said it, I’m certain the Twihards would not agree, or perhaps they would point out how important it IS to have a boyfriend. I tend to agree with the quote’s assessment, but I’ll confess I’ve read the Twilight novels, and I didn’t hate them. I was not a victim of the hype, however. As for Harry Potter, I took a dear friend to the first movie because she’d loved the books. I enjoyed that so well that I became interested in reading the books. I don’t feel I was caught up in the hype on that either, although I did stand in line at midnight for the last one. LOL.
We aren’t here to talk about Twilight or Harry Potter. We’re here to talk about HYPE, and its relationship to the actual validity of a written work. The Urban Dictionary defines hype thus: “A fad. A clever marketing strategy which a product is advertized as the thing everyone must have, to the point where people begin to feel they need to consume it.” As a member of the Gothic subculture, I was deeply suspicious of hype when I was young. You may not know this about Goths, but they invented the idea that if it’s popular in the mainstream, it is unbelievably lame. With this attitude, I missed out on some stuff that turned out not to be lame after all, including several opportunities to see Marilyn Manson in concert. I later discovered I loved his music, when I had gotten over the need to appear cool.
Some people are jealous of success. This sort of person will put down the successful, claiming it’s just the hype. Sometimes that’s true, and sometimes it isn’t. However, E. L. James and Stephanie Meyer are crying all the way to the bank, I’m sure. Since I am older and hopefully more mature than my uber-cool Kindergoth self, I attempt to make my own decision on what I will read, and whether I like what I have read. I have tried to stamp out the desire to spew vitriol all over something just because a lot of people think it is awesome. It reeks of bigotry to me, and I wasn’t raised that way. It smells of snobbery, as well. Pretentious, I think, is the word I want. While I once wanted to fit in with the pretentious Elder Goths I knew, I am now pretty elder myself, and I want to encourage critical thinking among anyone I should happen to inspire.
You might call the buzz around The Hunger Games hype. Having been on the New York Times’ Children Series Bestseller List for 106 weeks, the series is undeniably popular. The movie version is the Number 1 rental On Demand this week as well. Hunger Games merchandise is ubiquitous. One can hardly walk through the mall without tripping over a mockingjay. I’d reserved my opinion, because I had not read the books. Both my mother and father had, however. I’ve always trusted their book advice, since I was a little bitty reader. Once again, it took a trip to the movies to inspire me. My dad takes me to a movie a couple of times a month and he wanted to see The Hunger Games its very first weekend. I loved it. It spoke to me about our current struggle between the 99% and our 1% overlords, and I shivered to think how close we are to Ms. Collins’ dystopian vision. I think the series resonates for just this reason.
When I’d read the books, which I did in a fevered rush, I was certain. Let the naysayers say nay. Let the haters hate. To quote the hilarious Mr. Katt Williams, “So what she/he keeps talking about you and hating on you? What do you think a hater’s job is…to hate. If you have someone hating on you right now you better think of how to get five more people hating by Christmas. You need haters to make you stronger…without haters most people wouldn’t try to become better. Just tell them, bitch, you just hate me because you can’t be me.” I believe those who have not or cannot find success love to hate those who have. Ms. Collins evokes powerful imagery, creates characters who live and breathe, love and die, and who leave a hole in the heart when they do. I can think of no higher praise for an author than that she can make me cry for her creations.
I promised when I started this blog to talk about the meaning I gleaned from things I’d read, and I have done so when I have found it. I learned as a younger person, reading The Danse Macabre, that the times an author lives in seep into his or her work with or without planning, and that the success of art lies in how well it resonates with its audience. If this is so, ignore the hype, or lack thereof, and decide what resonates with you. As a former member of the middle class, reduced to one of the (sometimes) working poor, I felt The Hunger Games viscerally in my gut. The series spoke to me about my life, and the direction in which our country is headed, and the nature of humanity and humanness. I think these are the marks of great literature, and that’s definitely more than just hype.
When living an irreverent life, one must expect adventures. Not all of them will be as much fun or as PG-13 as a Pirates of the Caribbean movie. As a devotee of divine decadence, I have always believed that our regrets come from things we haven’t done as opposed to those we have. When I am an old lady, I’ve always intended to have no such regrets. I’ve made some choices everyone might not make, and have a host of life experience by which to judge the authenticity of certain kinds of irreverent literature. I’ve been a lingerie model/escort, taking my life in my hands by going on outcalls to show off my underwear to strangers. I’ve had an affair with a male dancer. I’ve had friends who stripped and performed in fetish shows. I’ve been a groupie. So when I say I know that making oneself the object of someone’s desire is dangerous, I can back that up with personal experience.
This experience has also led to a certain degree of impatience with stories described as “erotic”. It seems to me that inserting supposedly titillating material into a work seems to be a shortcut for some authors to make their story more interesting without having to focus on actually creating much story. I am not putting down either erotic literature, or straight-up porn. I’ll be reviewing such pieces from time to time, and I’m a fan. The problem arises when sex becomes gratuitous, or when the author clearly comes from a place of vanilla where “kinky” consists of moving beyond the missionary position. Romance has its place, as does sex. The point I guess I am making is that wherever your piece comes from it should be authentic.
This week’s book seems to do so. Skin, by Patricia Rosemoor, is listed as an erotic thriller. The author has this to say about Skin:
“IS HE THE MAN SHE THINKS HE IS, OR IS HE THE KILLER…
Lilith Mitchell finds her runaway sister dancing at a gentleman’s club. They barely reconnect when a killer kidnaps Hannah. Keeping his victims prisoner for days, he then hunts them in a forest preserve. Determined to save Hannah before it’s too late, Lilith takes Hannah’s place at the club to lure the killer into coming after her.
There she meets Michael Wyndham, documentary filmmaker whose current project SKIN is a psychological study of the dancers. Lilith connects with him and falls under his spell…but is Michael the man he seems to be, or is he the one terrorizing her?
In a world of deception, where everyone seems guilty, who can Lilith trust?”
Lilith, our heroine, is not a dancer herself, and in fact, comes across and something of a prude, despite her mental protestations to the contrary. Her sister, Hannah, is rather atypical of the dancers I have known, but it is not unheard of for a stripper to enjoy the power she has over men. However, Lilith’s conflict over wanting to rescue her sister and her disapproval of her lifestyle rings true. There are a suitable number of suspects for the murders, and while I suspected who it ultimately was, there wasn’t a dead giveaway. The story moves, and maintained my interest. The only complaint I might was the sex scene, which read a bit like something I might have written as a middle school virgin. However, since we get it from Lilith’s point of view, that’s probably appropriate.
All in all, I enjoyed Skin, and give it an Earthly rating.