Friday night I came home from school, immediately changed into my pajamas, poured a mug of tea (I’ve been trying to consume less coffee these days) and curled up in my bed with a book. I’ve had very few Friday evenings lately that I could just curl up with a book and ignore the world, so I jumped at the opportunity. I curled up with my puppies, snuggled deep under my covers, and fell into the pages of What Could Go Wrong?: My Mostly Comedic Journey Through Marriage, Parenting and Depression by Brett Grayson.
I’ve had this book sitting on my nightstand for months. It’s been begging to be read. It was sent to me by some lovely folks and I was really pumped about it, I was just dealing with my own struggle through depression, exhaustion, and frazzled. When I get in my own low points, like I was suffering through, I find it difficult to read about somebody else’s journey through depression. I’ve never been much of a “misery loves company” type. Reading about other people’s depression just compounds my own.
But by Friday, I was in a clear headspace. Which was good, because this book definitely required me to be in a clear headspace.
What Could Go Wrong? delivered exactly what the subtitle promised. It was a truly comedic journey through marriage, parenting and depression. There were times that I laughed out loud. There were times I caught myself wanting to cry. And then there were times that I was truly disgusted. But it was definitely a book that hooked me.
I read it in one sitting, just me, my puppies, my tea, and the still night around me. Snuggled up in my cavern of blankets. Drinking warm tea and listening to chill jams. It was the perfect storm for memoir reading.
As for the memoir itself, it was a lot less idyllic. That’s not to say it was bad; it wasn’t bad. It was a perfectly adequate book. Brett Grayson’s voice is very familiar, he writes as if having a conversation with an old friend, which is something I always enjoy. It’s very conversational and informal.
Sometimes it even errs on the side of too informal. There were a few topics for which I was not prepared, masturbation and bodily functions being chief among the complaints I have. It may be surprising to readers of my blog, but I have a foul mouth. My podcast, Lifetime Sentence, has to be marked explicit because I can’t watch the things I say. Even then, I was taken aback by the content of this book at times.
There was even a point in which I sent a few questions to my far-less-conservative-than-me group of friends to ask if I was being too prudish and they were just as uncomfortable as me. Those times were fleeting and were not big enough, long enough, or intense enough to deter me from finishing the book. They just let me momentarily uncomfortable.
There were also several times I laughed out loud, genuinely threw my head back and laughed heartily along with Grayson. His familiar voice leant itself well to his sense of humor. When his comedy landed, it was spot on. It resonated deep within me and made me cackle. Conversations between Grayson and his wife felt too real, sometimes nearly verbatim conversations I’ve had with my wife. And the images he paints of life with children seem so spot on, though having no children of my own, I can only comment as a casual observer.
Grayson’s book was real. It told his story. It definitely follows William Zinsser’s advice on writing memoirs (which I’ve mentioned earlier I’m teaching to my students in our current unit in school.) Zinsser advises writers to: be yourself, tell your truth, think small, and speak freely. Grayson did all of these things and did all of these things well, despite my own aversions to the content.
This book is a great read for lovers of comedy and anybody who is ready to take a comedic look at depression. This book should come with extreme trigger warnings for postpartum depression and especially abortion. I was not prepared for the open discussion of abortion that occurs in this book, and while I think discussion about abortion is important, especially in this current political climate, I personally would have liked some kind of warning. I would have liked to be able to steel myself for it.
Regardless of the things that made me uncomfortable, regardless of it all, I enjoyed the time I spent with What Could Go Wrong? It made for a wonderful, relaxing Friday evening.
3 out of 5 stars
The Plucky Reader