Jenny Lawson, blogger and author of New York Times bestseller Let’s Pretend This Never Happened, had around 2,600 people in attendance at the launch party for her second book, Furiously Happy, Tuesday night to celebrate the book’s release. The venue? Google hangouts.
It was like the perfect place to talk about Furiously Happy, which focuses on Lawson’s struggles with mental illness, and by speaking with fans via screen, she seemed to put all viewers at ease. She reminded her audience to have fun with the advantages that come with sitting anonymously at a computer participating in such an event.
“You should be drinking,” she said. “If you have a problem with alcohol, try cocaine. No, don’t do that. Sorry. I’ve been drinking.”
Lawson sat facing her computer in front of a backdrop that proved far more telling of her personality than any venue ever could. A stuffed white mountain goat stood next to her reading a book as an extremely peppy stuffed raccoon sat on his shoulders. Behind them, white bookcases lined the walls with an eclectic mix of books, the kind of dolls you’d expect to see in a horror film, and another stuffed raccoon. If that’s not the kind of humor you appreciate, Furiously Happy is maybe not for you.
While reading the first chapter out loud, she admitted the experience was frightening. Despite all of her blogging at TheBloggess.com, Lawson has never been completely open about all the aspects of her mental illness, which is described in detail in the first chapter. Titled “Furiously Happy. Dangerously Sad.” it opens with an argument between Lawson and her mother about whether or not she’s “crazy.” Her mother says no; Lawson says absolutely. She goes on to tick off the issues she deals with, including clinical depression, anxiety disorder. and rheumatoid arthritis.
When discussing the book, she likens it to a “road map [to dealing with mental illness], so everybody can say, ‘Oh, we’re all f—ed up.’” She decided to go public with her depression because she began to feel disingenuous about her blog, she says. She was saving funny posts as drafts to publish when she didn’t have the strength to write and then felt guilty when people would comment on how funny she was.
“There was something so amazingly freeing about saying, ‘I’m kind of screwed up’ and having people come say ‘you’re not alone,’” she said.
She then read a lighter chapter, “I Left My Heart in San Francisco (But Replace “San Francisco” with “Near the Lemur House” and Replace “Heart” with a Sad Question Mark),” which recalls a hilarious series of questions that tell the story about the time she dug through a trash can in a zoo because she thought she’d accidentally thrown her car keys away. (Spoiler alert: she hadn’t.)
Lawson then proceeded to the Q&A portion of the event, which included the following tidbits from her life:
- She has autographed babies, a human tongue, and a sheep brain—but she drew the line at signing a kitten.
- If she had to save one book from her house, it’d be the copy of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson that her husband got her when her first book came out.
- Dorothy Barker, her dog who made a guest appearance, barks like a chirping smoke detector when the batteries run out.
- If someone had to play her in a movie, she’d choose Amy Poehler just so they could hang out together. Tom Cruise would play her husband, Victor.
- The stuffed white goat goes by the name of Totes McGoats, and yes, she has contacted the airport about buying him a plane ticket to accompany her on tours. She tried to say he was her anxiety animal, but “apparently there’s some sort of issue with having big stabby horns.”
- There may be a three-part series in the works. “I have a children’s book filled with profanity, another one not filled with profanity, and a teen book.” None have publishers. They may just go up for free online someday.
After more than two hours, Lawson signed off with a parting thank you to her fans. “You made this book happen, and I appreciate it.”
Furiously Happy is on shelves now.