Jenny Lawson, aka The Bloggess, on her new book and weird taxidermied fan gifts
Jenny Lawson made the most of her bizarre childhood. In fact, she turned it into a New York Times bestseller. But Lawson's entry to the literary world was her popular blog, The Bloggess, which attracted the attention of a literary agent. Let's Pretend This Never Happened is her new, mostly-true memoir full of hilarious accounts of dangerous wild animals and adventures in taxidermy.
Photo courtesy of Jenny Lawson
We caught up with the writer in advance of her signing at 7:30 p.m. tonight at the Tattered Cover LoDo, and spoke with her about embracing her past, weird fan gifts, and writing about mental illness with humor.
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Westword: What made you want to write this book?
Jenny Lawson: I started writing the book eleven years ago. I wanted to write it because I wanted to record all of this family history so that if I ever had kids -- because at the time I didn't have my daughter -- I would be able to share this with my kids later on. I really wrote it just for my child. And then I was approached by my agent, who was like, "I think you have a book in you." And I was like, well, I do, but it's not for you. She convinced me that maybe the world would like to see it after all.
Where did the title come from?
It came from the fact that when I was a kid, all of these things that happened to me as a kid were always moments that I wanted to pretend had never happened. And then as I got older and started writing the book I started to realize that all of these family stories that we told over and over again, those were the stories that were the most important to us. Those were the stories that made us who we are today, which is why I went with Let's Pretend This Never Happened as the actual book title.
How does your family feel about it? Have they read it?
Yeah, everybody's read it. Actually, before I sent it to my editor I made sure that everybody in my family read it first, including my in-laws, my parents, my sister, just to make sure that they agreed with everything that was in it and that there wasn't anything in it that they wanted me to take out. What was great, though, was that not only were they extremely supportive and wonderful about it, but also they were the first people to say, "Oh, we have pictures of that. And don't you remember when this happened? I can't believe you left off this part." They were super-supportive and helped make the book even better.
Were you worried about how they would react to it?
I was a little worried; I was worried about how my in-laws would react to it. My parents, I figured that they would probably be fine with it because they're pretty much fine with everything. I think that they were very surprised that it became popular, because for us it's just our family stories. They were like, "Oh, yeah, it's funny, but it's not really funny, it's just a normal story." And I'm like, there are no normal stories that have our family in them. None of those stories are normal.
Why do you think that it became so popular?
I think that so many people can relate to the fact that at least at one time in their life they have felt like they don't fit in, they're awkward in some way, there was something that they wanted to pretend never happened. And as we get older we start to realize that weird can be good. Weird can actually be great. And I think there's something very celebratory in that. The thing that I get the most often in responses is, "Oh, my god, I thought I was the only one who thought that." It's kind of funny because everyone says that. There's so many things that go through your mind that you think, oh, I can't ever say this out loud because no one would ever understand, and then you read this book and realize there's an entire tribe of us out there.