I don’t usually read The Bloggess as explained in an earlier post but after reading the excerpt, I thought I might really like this book. About halfway through I was still guffawing and started to wonder what other people were thinking about the book so I peeked at some of the other reviews on Goodreads and was surprised to see that it was getting poor marks.
“It’s true, I did say I wanted girlfriends,” I capitulated hesitantly, “but couldn’t we start with something smaller and less terrifying? Like maybe spend a weekend at a crack house? I heard those people are very nonjudgmental, and if you accidentally say something offensive you can just blame it on their hallucinations.”
“You should just accept who you are, flaws and all, because if you try to be someone you aren’t, then eventually some turkey is going to shit all over your well-crafted facade, so you might as well save yourself the effort and enjoy your zombie books.”
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Several reviewers mentioned that because of her use of stream of consciousness narrative that it cannot be a book. Wikipedia has a different take on that:
“Narrative technique….To represent the mind at work, a writer may incorporate snatches of thought and grammatical constructions that do not seem coherent because they are based on the free association of ideas and images….Novels in which stream of consciousness plays an important role include James Joyce’s Ulysses (1922), William Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury (1929), and Virginia Woolf’s The Waves (1931)….Ken Kesey’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1962) also uses stream of consciousness, particularly Chief Bromden’s thoughts during electroshock therapy….Sylvia Plath with The Bell Jar (1963), Salman Rushdie in Midnight’s Children (1981), as well as Irvine Welsh in Trainspotting (1993) used this narrative technique. “
Frighteningly enough for her critics, it looks like Jenny Lawson is in good company with her stream of consciousness style. What writer wouldn’t want to be compared to Faulkner, Fitzgerald, and Woolf not to mention Rushdie and Kesey (last one, very appropriate by the way) but wait this is from Wikipedia. I wouldn’t put it past Lawson to have made the entry herself. Probably after she read the first criticism griping about Stream of Consciousness because sooner or later some idiot would look it up and defend her.
So let’s take a look at a definition of the word “book”:
“Definition of BOOK
a : a set of written sheets of skin or paper or tablets of wood or ivory
b : a set of written, printed, or blank sheets bound together into a volume
c : a long written or printed literary composition
d : a major division of a treatise or literary work
e : a record of a business’s financial transactions or financial condition —often used in plural
f : magazine 4a
g : e-book”
It’s clear that book is not a subjective definition. Just because we don’t like a book, we can’t make it a non-book. A book is a book is a book, despite the narrative. Lawson’s book is a book.
(I don’t think Lawson has tampered with this definition and I am pretty sure she wrote the first draft on sheets of skin from her father’s taxidermy shop.)
So, I think we may need to look at a new descriptive for classifying books based on blogs. Just like Hollywood made a new definition for movies not made by Movie studios, but by TV studios. The term “Made for TV Movies” made clear that it still was a feature-length-visual-entertainment-medium but that it would CLEARLY NOT be nominated for any Oscars. We need a new word to describe this kind of book like “Made for Book Blog”.
The one thing I did agree with from the other reviewers was that after the halfway point in the book I did get a little exhausted by “crazy Jenny”. She is funny, no question about that but in small doses. This book probably won’t make me read her blog. She has a real potty mouth and all those bad words made my eyes feel dirty but with her three million readers, I don’t think she’ll miss me.
“I picked up the phone to call the police, but then I considered how it would sound when I told them that I was calling from inside my bathroom, where I’d OD’ed on laxatives, and that a possible rapist was quietly passing me notes under the bathroom door.”
― Jenny Lawson, Let’s Pretend This Never Happened: A Mostly True Memoir