Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh

Hyperbole and a Half Allie Brosh

Rating: 

Other than the seriously offensive smell of Hyperbole and Half‘s pages (I think it’s all that colourful ink) and that odd yellow triangle on the top of Brosh’s cartoon head (what is that, anyway? A hat, a blonde ponytail?), this is a self-aware blog-to-book memoir describing some of the absurdities and poignancy of everyday life.

My first encounter with Allie Brosh’s blog of the same name was a few years ago when the glorious “God of Cake” went viral. I was reminded of an angry 8-year-old me wanting to get revenge on my mother. She wanted to go into town. I didn’t. I said I needed the toilet. I sat there, and sat there, and sat there, making her wait. She knew what I was doing. After that day she was suspicious every time I emptied my bladder before leaving the house. My plan backfired while Brosh’s succeeded.

“This Is Why I’ll Never Be An Adult” perfectly details my problem with procrastination and the occasional monumental effort I make to get everything done at once.

Hyperbole and a Half clean all the things This Is Why I’ll Never Be An Adult

What usually ends up happening is that I completely wear myself out [doing all my chores in one day]. Thinking that I’ve deserved it, I give myself permission to slack off for a while and recover. Since I’ve exceeded my capacity for responsibility in such a dramatic fashion, I end up needing to take more recovery time than usual. This is when the guilt spiral starts.

The longer I procrastinate on returning phone calls and emails, the more guilty I feel about it. The guilt I feel causes me to avoid the issue further, which only leads to more guilt and more procrastination. It gets to the point where I don’t email someone for fear of reminding them that they emailed me and thus giving them a reason to be disappointed in me.

Everyone will have a story similar to “The Parrot”. That toy that makes that annoying, repetitive noise which suddenly and mysteriously stops working, because your parents have removed the batteries before they experienced a mental breakdown.

Brosh’s take on depression (Part One and Part Two) did an excellent job of explaining the pressures of acting ‘normal’.

Hyperbole and a Half depression

Hyperbole and a Half depression

Hyperbole and a Half depression

I’m no stranger to the inappropriate hysterical laughter that comes after something breaks inside, together with not having been genuinely amused for a long time, made me completely understand Brosh’s episode over a single piece of corn found under the refrigerator. My toilet had overflowed, shit everywhere. Only a few days before, the kitchen had flooded with clean water. It was already a time of great stress, and this was that infamous final straw. I laughed and laughed.

After that…

…my depression got so horrible that it actually broke through to the other side and became a sort of fear-proof exoskeleton.

Hyperbole and a Half depression

But my cynicism wouldn’t leave me.

Hating everything made all the positivity and hope feel even more unpalatable. The syrupy, over-simplified optimism started to feel almost offensive.

Hyperbole and a Half depression

“Identity” Parts One and Two focuses on feeling bad for the uncensored and uncharitable thoughts we want no one to ever hear, and the need to feel like a better person than we actually are, hating when we’re reminded of it by overachievers. We’ve all been there.

Duncan had a bad day . . . sort of looks like he might cry. Feel highly inconvenienced by this. Was planning to sit on couch and do nothing, but now obligated to pay attention to feelings of person I love. Ignore for a few seconds to see if it will go away on its own . . . Nope. Going to have to do something. Realize I’m an asshole. Feel even more inconvenienced by situation because I also wasn’t planning on having to think about what an asshole I am. Momentarily overwhelmed by self-concern in middle of someone else’s crisis. Somehow fight through self-centered haze long enough to provide adequate emotional support. Congratulate self for being so caring.

Although I enjoyed reading Hyperbole and a Half, I’m not sure if it’s worth buying. It depends on your preferential type of humour and whether you’re a dog lover who can enjoy the misadventures of Simple Dog and Helper Dog. Sampling a few of Brosh’s blog posts would give you a feel for her style of writing, and if you’re still unsure, just do what I did and borrow it from the library.

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