Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh

18371690Nonfiction — print. Touchstone, 2013. 369 pgs. Library copy.

A friend introduced me to Brosh’s blog of the same name several years ago, and I spent far too many hours laughing my way through the archives. Unfortunately, the blog has since gone on hiatus but one of her comics lives on an internet meme and some of the best stories from her site have been compiled in this book, subtitled “Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened”.

This graphic memoir includes three of my favorite posts – the one about realizing “special dog” is, in fact, special; the one about adulthood; and the one about her depression – and few more posts I cannot remember seeing before. (I did miss the one about how a goldfish almost destroyed her childhood but, thankfully, it is preserved on her blog. Trust me, you’ll be crying with laughter over this one.)

Her chart about adulthood – the never-ending, mundane chores – remains a favorite of mine because of how brilliantly Brosh is able to draw and narrate exactly how I feel. I mean, didn’t I just clean my apartment last week and do laundry last Thursday and cook dinner last night? Why must I do all of this again? She also includes a graph in this section about the ratio of tasks to accomplishments – too few and you have a smug sense of achievement, but too many and you end up wasting time on the internet.

The most poignant chapter in this book – and, I would argue the best on her blog – is her description of what is like to suffer from depression. She is somehow able to put into words and images the feeling of not feeling, the feeling of unexplainable sadness allowing readers to understand what is often misunderstood and to connect with her in an unexpectantly intimate way.

Some of the new content felt out of place amidst her more famous pieces. They read like filler material as though the publisher said she needed to create new content in order to get fans of the free blog to buy the book. Even so, I greatly enjoy this book and I hope she will eventually return to her blog or barring that, produce another humorous and poignant book.


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