Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things that Happened is the subtitle of Allie Brosh’s new book Hyperbole and a Half. The collection of illustrated life stories contains material mostly taken from her wildly popular blog of the same name. Devoted readers of her blog may find the book lacking in enough new material, but for casual readers such as myself, Brosh’s book serves as a great introduction to her work.
I first encountered the blog Hyperbole and a Half when the post Adventures in Depression went viral. The author’s struggle with depression are often touted as being some of the most revealing accounts of living with the disease. Brosh’s purposely crude drawings when coupled with the text often strike an emotional cord that cuts close to the bone for anyone who has ever struggled with such feelings:
It’s weird for people who still have feelings to be around depressed people. They try to help you have feelings again so things can go back to normal, and it’s frustrating for them when that doesn’t happen. From their perspective, it seems like there has got to be some untapped source of happiness within you that you’ve simply lost track of, and if you could just see how beautiful things are.
Brosh’s style is admittedly not for everyone. The language is often coarse, though I would argue it is absolutely essential for properly conveying a pessimistic state of mind. At times, her dark take on life comes across as absolutely hilarious. At other times, her honesty may strike some readers as overly self-indulgent. As a writer, her prose is far from being elevated or complex, but it gets the job done. The pictures, more often than not, take center stage.
The author’s true talent lies in sharing those less than perfect moments we’ve all found ourselves in. The author of Hyperbole and a Half has a penchant for invoking pity from reader as she recounts embarrassing childhood escapades, life with her emotionally damaged dogs, as well as how her coping mechanisms are indeed flawed. As a fellow gloriously imperfect human being, I most connected with this line:
For me, motivation is this horrible, scary game where I try to make myself do something while I actively avoid doing it.
Socrates stated long ago that the unexamined life is not worth living. Allie Brosh’s Hyperbole and a Half fully captures how we are all the sum of our parts–warts and all. There’s a lot of doom and gloom in life, and to sweep those parts of ourselves under the rug and simply put on a smile is not how a lot of us cope. Books like this give a voice to the often voiceless.
Have you read Brosh’s blog? What other accounts of dealing with depression might you recommend?
You can connect with Allie and her social sites via her blog or buy now via Amazon.
For more insight, read my Book Review Criteria. Please share responsibly. Jeri Walker, 2014.