cover image This Will Be Funny Later: A Memoir

This Will Be Funny Later: A Memoir

Jenny Pentland. Harper, $27.99 (352p) ISBN 978-0-06-296292-8

“My life is a sitcom.... I know everyone’s life is, but mine is literally,” writes Pentland in this immensely affecting and hilarious debut about growing up with her mother, comedian Roseanne Barr. Pentland recalls her childhood in working-class Denver in the early ’80s, when her mother—tired of playing the role of suburban wife in a strained marriage—began doing stand-up. After finding minor success and moving the family to Los Angeles in 1984, Roseanne catapulted to fame with an HBO special in 1986 and, a couple of years later, her eponymous hit series on ABC. Though the show was based on her family, Pentland reveals their home life diverged wildly from what she saw on the screen. The characters “were lightweight, PG versions of us with no complicated backstories,” she muses before recalling story lines that didn’t make the show: her stepfather’s struggle with substance abuse, Pentland’s time spent in psychiatric facilities, and her sister Jessica’s drug overdose. Like her mother, Pentland has a scathing, unapologetic wit, and it’s on full display throughout her chronicle of navigating the “parallel-reality version” of her tumultuous adolescence and eventually finding her real-life happily-ever-after with her husband and sons. This intimate portrayal of the dark side of Hollywood is hard to put down. (Jan.)