Life is a struggle. Sometimes just getting out of bed can be hard. Trying to justify to yourself that you are good enough merely for waking and running errands, while it may be a stretch, is completely necessary sometimes. Jenny Lawson is mentally ill. Sometimes, she admits that she sets the bar unabashedly low that she may even trip up on it. On receiving news that her friend had died, instead of wallowing in self-pity and spiraling into a frenzied depression, she decides instead to do the very opposite-be absolutely furiously happy. In her book, which she declares is “a collection of bizarre essays and conversations and confused thoughts stuck together by spilled boxed wine and the frustrated tears of baffled editors,” she breaks down what it is to be mentally ill; to fully embrace who she is while maintaining a sense of humor that is sharp as a tack.
A reader of the Bloggess (Lawson’s blog) for a while now and completely smitten with her hilarious anecdotes and daily forays into her life, this was my second time around with Furiously Happy and it was equally hilarious! Her cats, Ferris Mewler, Hunter S. Tomcat and Rolly appear fairly frequently in the book- one of the most prominent occasions is when Lawson, who can’t sleep decides to fix a taxidermied raccoon, Rory-her guru (who has a few missing limbs and severed toes from a Vegas roller-coaster ride) to one her said house cats. Her husband awakes to find the cat (raccoon attached) flying out of the room.
She lives and talks in hyperbole. Not merely for the sake of them, but to help restore her sanity and live in real moments of fulfillment. Her conversations with her husband are colorful and completely unexpected. Waiting to hear what she is about to say next is like a child waiting for a Jack-in-the-box to open. While her candor is off-the-wall and not intended for all audiences, she admits it may resonate more with the intellectual misfit. I say we can all learn something from it.
Mental illness is something many people live with and yet, especially in Western cultures it is swept under the carpet. Not in this book. Here Lawson, a frantic insightful squirrel cracks that nut wide open. It may seem like a strange topic to be writing a book about but she tackles the subject in a way many others may not have been so successful writing about. Most people struggle with inadequacy issues and this is a great read if you just want to see what it is like to be fallible, striving for a happy, meaningful life while overcoming hurdles and pitfalls.
I have judged books by their covers of taxidermied animals before and, well they have never let me down. Though I hate to compare the author of Furiously Happy to anyone else, when I started Jenny Lawson’s book, I was immediately reminded of David Sedaris rolled into his sister, Amy with a splash of Tine Fey and a soupcon of Amy Poehler. The truth is Lawson is apologetically, hysterically all herself and that, in this day and age is furiously amazing!