Author Jenny Lawson (aka The Bloggess) on Social Anxiety, Literary Heroes, and Her Upcoming Visit to Changing Hands
Journalist and blogger Jenny Lawson's new memoir, Let's Pretend This Never Happened (A Mostly True Memoir), features a photograph of a stuffed mouse on the cover. The mouse is dressed as Hamlet, in a white ruff and red-lined cape, and holds a tiny mouse skull in its paw. It's a fitting image for this book, which is by turns hysterically funny, endearingly odd, and - surprisingly - very moving.
Chapters in the book include "Don't Tell Your Parents," "Jenkins, You Motherfucker," "My Vagina Is Fine. Thanks for Asking," and "You Can't Go Home Again (Unless You Want to Get Mauled by Wild Dogs." And because Lawson can really write, the chapters more than live up to their names, and the book ends up being a lot more substantial and memorable than others of its kind.
If you have read the book, or know anything about The Bloggess, as the author is also known, you are aware that because Lawson suffers from anxiety disorder, particularly about speaking in public extemporaneously, a book tour is probably not on her list of favorite things to do. But she's on the road nevertheless, to promote her book, and she'll be in Tempe at Changing Hands Bookstore on Saturday, August 11, anxiety disorder be damned.
Lawson took the time to answer a few questions via e-mail (see below), as talking on the phone is not on her list of favorite things to do either...
In the book, you describe the anxiety that speaking with people in public situations causes you. Are book tours difficult for you? Do you have coping strategies, or do you just figure these are your fans, so to hell with trying to be "normal"?
I did a lot of behavioral therapy before the tour and I still rely on anti-anxiety drugs, but the most helpful thing is knowing that if I had to hide in the bathroom to hyperventilate before a reading people would be okay with it and would understand. That's they benefit of being a known psychopath.
Have you been to the Phoenix area before? If so, what were the circumstances, and what do you remember? If not, what have you heard?
I stopped over once at the airport and I seem to remember some sort of large attacking bird statue there. Also, everyone I've talked to has told me that I will immediately burst into flames if I don't stick to the shade at all times.
Who are your literary heroes/heroines?
Neil Gaiman, Dorothy Parker, Ray Bradbury, David Sedaris.
What book are you reading now?
I'm rereading Julia Child's My Life in France. It's making my hungry.
How old is your daughter now (I'm thinking 7, but want to make sure), and what does she think of your writing career?
She's seven. She's fairly unimpressed with the whole thing, but she once saw someone ask me for my autograph and she was in complete awe.
You promise a second book. Are you working on one? If yes, what can you tell us about it?
I'm working on book number two right now. It's similar to Let's Pretend This Never Happened in that it's a true story about me mortifying myself. Surprisingly, I never run out of those stories.
Lawson will be at Changing Hands Bookstore on Saturday, Aug. 11. Event tickets are free with the purchase of her book from changing hands and will be called by assigned letter group to fill seats (two seats per ticket) one hour before the event. You can preorder her book on the Changing Hands website or by calling (480)-730-0205. More info here.
Get the Arts & Culture Newsletter
Find out about upcoming performances, exhibitions, openings and special events happening in the Phoenix art and theater scene.