Brosh, Allie. Hyperbole and a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened (2013). Touchstone. 384 Pages
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’m not sneaky enough to pull it off convincingly. So I decided to just make a list of things that are in the book:
Stories about things that happened to me
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!
It seems like there should be some sort of introduction to this.
Here is a recreation of a drawing I did when I was five:
It’s a guy with one normal arm and one absurdly fucking squiggly arm, If you look really closely you can see the normal arm under the squiggly one. What you can’t see is that in the original, the squiggly arm continues for the entire length of a roll of butcher paper. It started on one end and then just kept going until I ran out of paper.
I remember drawing it and thinking. This is insane… I can’t even believe how long this guy’s arm is. If I had not run out of paper, who knows what would have happened.
I’m not sure how I found Hyperbole and a Half. But it’s been a long-standing source of entertainment for me. Much like my previous review (Let’s Pretend this Never Happened by Jenny Lawson (a.k.a. “The Bloggess“) who, interestingly enough wrote the Editorial Review on Amazon.) I’ve been following Allie’s blog for a while, and was thrilled when she wrote a book.
Again, much like The Bloggess, Allie can be both brutally honest and earnest about her struggles with depression, and the weirdness of her life. (See: “Adventures in Depression“) Personal favorites include “Sneaky Hate Spiral” (which is not in the book) and “This is Why I’ll Never be an Adult” (which is.)
There is a lot of content on Allie’s blog, but even with all of that, there is content in her book that you won’t find on her site. (And of course, much on her site that wouldn’t have fit into the book.)
Her writing flows well, and she manages to narrate her stories with excellent pacing, all of it building up to have a perfect punch line and often a fun “lesson*” at the end of it. Or, at the very least a statement that makes you laugh almost as much as the story which immediately preceded it.
The art is stylized, but it works well with the narrative, to bring you an entire story which works together to make you laugh. And laugh, you will. Not necessarily because what is happening is funny, but because the way Allie narrates it lends it humor that makes it more enjoyable.
I don’t know what else to say about this. The art is perfect. The narrative is wonderful, and the two work together to seamlessly tell stories of introspection and silliness that make it a great read. Do not read it in public, but do make sure to give it a chance. It earns a very solid 5/5 for being fantastic.
A note on format: The paperback has beautiful, glossy pages and full-color images. I strongly suggest you purchase that or the hardcover for maximum enjoyment and share-ability.
If, based upon my glowing praise in this awesome review, you choose to buy the book, please consider doing so through my Amazon referral link.
* I don’t actually think that’s the word I want for it. Her stories have a point, not quite a moral, not quite a lesson, but… a point.