Book review: Hyperbole and a half

5/5 stars

I re-read this book to see if it would be a good gift for a  friend of mine. And I had only just sat down and opened the book when I found myself half way through (or so it felt), and wondering why I do not read this book every week.

I must touch on the comics about depression  especially. I’ve never known anyone to write so poignantly about something so serious and heart-breaking (except maybe Sarah Kane) – which may surprise you if you look at the cover of the book. But you know what they say about that… And in this case it’s infinitely true.

If anyone ever asks me what it’s like to be depressed I’d refer to this. And if you’ve never been depressed, it probably seems completely absurd that you’d not return a video for 35 days, or that you’d be overcome by apathy on your way to the washing machine and end up sitting on a pile of dirty laundry for weeks. But to someone who has suffered from depression it is absurdly relatable. Towards the end of my relationship with my ex, 12 odd years ago, there was a layer of crap (dirty laundry, books, CDs, swords, plates and cups you name it) about half a metre deep across our entire bedroom floor. I find this extremely shameful to relate and crazy to think about, but it happened. And at the time I didn’t even really have the impulse to do something about it. I would just wade through it to get to my closet, like that was a totally normal thing to do. I don’t know if my ex was also depressed or if he was just too far gone from me, from us, to even notice.

When we finally managed to break up and I moved out, I made the decision to NOT leave half a metre of clothes, books, CDs  and plates and cups (the swords naturally belonged to my ex) on the floor of my new flat. It was however one of the very few decisions I was capable of making for a long time.

I remember all too well feeling nothing, and I remember all too well feeling absolutely everything at  the same time – a relentless tide of feelings. I am still searching for that happy middle.

I am extremely grateful to Allie Brosh for being able to write so openly and honestly about depression, and when I read these comics I am overwhelmed with feelings of love and tenderness for this stranger who seems so much like a friend, like a kindred spirit. Which seems a little invasive to her privacy. But I don’t care: I LOVE YOU ALLIE BROSH!

Even if you don’t give two figs about depression you should still read this book. Even if you don’t care about dogs, or cake, and even if you love spiders or geese, you should read this book. It’s absurdly hilarious from the first page to the last, and between the deceptively simplistic drawings there is a wealth of compassion, humour and perceptive observations about life.

The only small criticism I have is that she does tend to go on a bit. Especially the last two comics about identity could have probably been cut in half and been equally funny and gotten the point across equally well or perhaps better.

I was alot excited (yes that was intentional) when browsing Amazon to buy this book for everyone I didn’t already give it to, to see that there will be a new Allie Brosh book coming out this September, and you can bet your sweet behind that I already pre-ordered it. All hail Allie!


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