Hyperbole and a Half


THE BOOK

This is a compilation of blog posts by Allie Brosh, the genius behind this image:

Credit: hyperboleandahalf.blogspot.com

and her blog of the same name. It’s basically an autobiography, but it is WAY more entertaining than any other biography I’ve ever read.

WHY I PICKED IT UP

Ordinarily I wouldn’t have given it a second glance, but I saw a post about it on Topper’s Books (I know, I get a lot of recommendations for reviews from Topper. I should just let Topper start picking what I review!) extolling its hilarity and it piqued my curiosity.
It’s usually pretty hard to make me laugh out loud, so I thought this book would be good for a challenge.

WHAT I LIKED ABOUT IT

Alot (inside joke). But seriously, this book IS hilarious to me. I laughed out loud at least once every five pages, much to the consternation of my wife, who is studying for finals. I loved Brosh’s candid childhood stories and I especially liked her chapter on depression. Apart from being a wonderful tool to let depressed people know they’re not alone, it can help friends and family of those who are depressed to see that there’s no “just get over it”—not without SOME kind of therapy be it medication, counseling, religion, or something else.
Writers can learn something from this as well—we work on making characters identifiable and SHOWING emotions vs. just telling us what they’re feeling. Allie uses some GREAT figurative language to SHOW us how depression feels. Check this section out to see what I mean—she doesn’t just list symptoms—“I was sad for no reason, it lasted more than two weeks at a time, I didn’t have any energy, it was hard to get out of bed, I stopped enjoying things I used to like”—anyone can quote a textbook, but the great authors go the extra mile and SHOW us what it feels like to be depressed. It helps to have experienced something like depression to describe it, but it’s not necessary—authors write wonderful scenes about being burned, dismembered, buried alive, and teleported all the time—but many of them have never experienced these things. In the future I plan to do a post on how to conjure up this imagery.
Also, a really small thing, but I LOVE how each of the chapters is on different color paper! Sweet!

WHAT COULD BE BETTER, IF ANYTHING

I have very little constructive criticism—I read the whole thing in a matter of days and loved it—but there are a few minor notes.
First, I know many of these chapters were lifted from Allie’s blog. I had no idea of the blog’s existence before I read this book, but seeing as how I paid $20 for something that’s free on the internet, I would hope there’s some exclusive or new content in the book to reward and encourage readers.*UPDATE: I hadn’t read Topper’s review until after this post, as I didn’t want to skew my opinions on the work, but Topper confirms there is MUCH new material in the book that is not available through the blog. Good show.
Secondly, there are so many memorable chapters in the book and they are pretty well spread out through its course. I’m still laughing as I recall some of them, so I wish the final chapter was a bit more memorable. It’s a rule in show business as well as literature: always end on a big number to leave your audience wanting more. I can’t remember what the last chapter was about, but I very clearly recall the first and several throughout the book’s course. The fact that I can’t remember it tells me it could have been dialed up just a hair.

RESULT: I READ IT

And I’m gonna read it again. And you should read it as well, whether on the internet or in print, it’s hilarious and heartfelt and Allie is infinitely identifiable in her struggles to be a ‘not completely shitty person.’
Readers will enjoy the humor, and authors can learn from the figurative language and character building.
So leave me a comment and tell me what you thought!

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4 thoughts on “Hyperbole and a Half

  1. I recall the tables being turned the other night when you were trying to write and I was laughing hysterically at the “god of cake” chapter… 😉

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