Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Hyperbole and a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened - Allie Brosh

Summary:  This is a book I wrote.  Because I wrote it, I had to figure out what to put on the back cover to explain what it is.  I tried to write a long, third-person summary that would imply how great the book is and also sound vaguely authoritative -- like maybe someone who isn't me wrote it -- but I soon discovered that I am not sneaky enough to pull it off convincingly.  So I decided to just make a list of things that are in the book:

  • Pictures.
  • Words.
  • Stories about things that happened.
  • Stories About things that happened to other people because of me.
  • Eight billion dollars.*
  • Stories about dogs.
  • The secret to eternal happiness.*
*These are lies.  Perhaps I have underestimated my sneakiness!  (Summary from back of book.)

My Review:  A long time ago I stumbled upon the blog Hyperbole and a Half and laughed my butt off at Allie Brosh's particular brand of humor.  I spent an embarrassing amount that night reading every post she'd ever written and continued to follow her blog, but her posts became so infrequent that I moved on to other things.  It wasn't until a few weeks ago that I was sitting at my friends house and found a familiar face staring at me from her bookshelf.  What the what? She wrote a book?!!  Squeee!!!!  I begged and borrowed without delay.

This 'book' is actually a collection of Allie's more popular blog posts, complete with her characteristically silly illustrations, unrestrained candor, dark humor, and acerbic wit.  Unfortunately for me, I'd already read most of them.  I read them again in short order, just to refresh my memory, but I wouldn't recommend slamming it down in one sitting to anyone else.  It was overwhelming.  Don't get me wrong, there were still chuckles to be had.  For example, as a young child, Allie sneaked into a locked room through a window so that she could devour her grandpa's birthday cake in its entirety just to spite her mother.  The illustrations alone sent me into fits.  And don't even get me started on the time she pretended to like hot sauce (and somehow got stuck pretending for the next twenty years).  Although I still enjoyed these and other parts of the book, I think I've grown a bit more motherly since I last read her work and couldn't help but worry when I read some of her darker material that dealt with depression, etc.  Allie clearly battles some fairly aggressive inner demons and although she's often quite insightful about her struggles, she's also really hard on herself and that self-loathing seeps onto the page with alarming regularity.  I wanted to hug her.  A lot.  I think she'd probably deck me and I know how she would draw me.  It's probably best that we never meet.

I think that you'll either love or loathe this book based on your sense of humor and your tolerance to profanity.  If you don't mind darkness and enjoy a high flow of sarcasm, profanity, and self-deprecation, you'll probably love it.  Tender heart?  Maybe give this one a pass. Personally, I find that my heart has softened a bit over the years and I couldn't quite get past some of the darker elements. If you aren't sure if this book is up your allie (see what I did there?), I suggest taking a look at her blog to see if it's something you'll enjoy.

For the sensitive reader:  If you're looking for cutesy and uplifting...look elsewhere.  Large amounts of swearing. Might have triggers for anyone struggling with suicidal thoughts or depression.  Occasional and utterly unnecessary use of the word 'retarded'.

My Rating: 2.75 Stars.

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