The subtitle for Furiously Happy is “A Funny Book About Horrible Things” and it is exactly that. There isn’t a cohesive narrative to the chapters (and some chapters can only dubiously be called cohesive themselves) but this isn’t exactly an anthology either. I think “conglomeration” might be suitable. This review will also be more personal than my usual because everything about this book is personal, a life and soul simultaneously laid bare and clothed in humor. Because human beings are contradictory bastards.
1—Laughing About Things That Should Not Be Funny
Because seriously, some of the things in this book are just awful, like bleeding feet and chlamydia, but Jenny Lawson just makes them hilarious. Because if she can laugh about it when she lived through it (not chlamydia, that’s the koalas) then I can laugh at it, and I can laugh at the horrible shit in my life too. And that’s the point, to learn to see the humor in the terrible things, and to learn to take joy both in spite of and because of all the screwed up stuff.
Jenny talks about about how if you can’t have the highs without the lows, then if you have super lows in your life you then also get super highs (or something to that affect) (also, not talking about drugs…well, medications, but not getting high on drugs).
You may notice I referred to Ms Lawson by her first name, and that is because reading her book is like chatting with a good friend, the kind of friend you take your social mask off with and share your real, wonderfully flawed and weird self with. And that’s because she shares that part of herself with her reader.
I also refer to Jenny as Ms Lawson because she is a classy lady…in a full-body koala suit. Go read the book.
2—Let’s Get Serious
While most chapters made me laugh a few made me cry with a weird sort of relief. All the fucked-up-edness in my own life sort of bubbled up in relief. And that is as much a gift as the laughter, and all the more so for being buried in amongst the fun.
3—How I Interpret Furious Happiness
I have two playlists that are similar and yet could not be more different. They are Melancholy and Mournful. Melancholy can best be summed up by Gloomy Sunday (the Sarah Brightman version, last verse that makes it all ok excepted). Melancholy is music to listen to when I want to be depressed.
Mournful…Mournful is screaming defiance against the night and the teeth and the pain. Being furiously happy is doing that but with laughter, probably not maniacal…maybe a little maniacal (what can I say, I have a natural cackle).
4—I Realize I Haven’t Discussed the Stories Yet
And that is because I study story as narrative. These stories…this is not a memoir. I called it a conglomeration because it’s a collection of stories about the marvelous and marvelously fucked-up occurrences in someone’s life. They’re sitting-with-a-friend-and-drinking-margaritas—virgin, in my case—while-chilling-on-the-patio stories. Or that you post on your blog for strangers and friends alike.
There is a thread connecting all the stories though—the determination to live life as much as one can, as furiously happy as one can. Really, the “Note from the Author” section explains it much better that I can. Also, don’t skip the Note from the Author…or the disclaimers. Fuck, read the copyright page.
I’m making everyone in my family read Furiously Happy. I recommend you do the same (after reading it yourself, of course). Also, check out The Bloggess blog, it’s awesome.