Brutally Funny

A Dark Collection of Dysfunctional Family Stories

Non-Fiction - Anthology
173 Pages
Reviewed on 09/23/2023
Buy on Amazon

Author Biography

Lynda West’s boutique production companies have produced music comedies for Warner Bros and New Line and arena tours with legends Run-DMC, LL Cool J, Salt ‘n’ Pepa, and the Fat Boys. Her first artist, the Fat Boys, garnered five gold and platinum albums and manager West has guided the careers of MTV and pop-culture on-air personalities. Last year, West co-produced the YO! MTV Raps 30th anniversary show at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center. Her art-direction/production resume includes hit albums and music videos. Her visuals and costumes are in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Her diversity is explained by her favorite New Yorker cartoon of store window signage:
Sears & Melville
Hardware and Novels

    Book Review

Reviewed by Grant Leishman for Readers' Favorite

Brutally Funny: A Dark Collection of Dysfunctional Family Stories by Lynda West is a clever, witty, and at times bittersweet anthology of short stories focused on her highly dysfunctional family. The Lloyd family was, to all outward appearances, the quintessential middle-class family, but just below the surface was a core of utter chaos and betrayal. Told from the perspective of a young daughter growing into adulthood, the humor is both cutting and sometimes deeply saddening, but always meaningful and pointed. Humor is used to highlight the utter absurdity of trying to make incredibly bad behavior appear to be normal. With a large age gap between the author and her siblings, her observations of this warped familial behavior began at an early age. She witnessed the battles between her mother and father plus those between her parents and her older siblings. As she matured and began to be included in these regular disputes, she marveled at the sheer hatred shown toward her by her sister, her brother’s fragile mental state, and her parents’ constant battles. As well as her immediate family, the stories also include other relatives and their contribution to the endless anarchy.

Brutally Funny by Lynda West is genuinely funny and darkly so. The author uses tragedy and pain exquisitely to sum up the utterly comedic nature of the human condition. Some of the stories, especially the one of the pedophile and racist brother-in-law’s grooming of her, are genuinely awful and disgusting yet the author does a wonderful job of smoothing over the horror of the situation with wit and insight. Many of the situations she encounters within her family will resonate with most readers and this was certainly the case for me, as I found myself frequently nodding and chuckling to myself about the familiarity of the situation she found herself in. Lovely family photos, as well as a stunningly wicked cartoon of her immediate family all add to the enjoyment of these stories. This was a fun read but, more than that, it made me think and compare, as I’m sure it will many other readers. I can highly recommend this read.

Luwi Nyakansaila

Brutally Funny: A Dark Collection of Dysfunctional Family Stories is a collection of comical tales by Lynda West. The work was inspired by the author’s twisted and at times scandalous family happenings. The first part covers stories that paint a picture of a dysfunctional family that does not get along and yet experiences funny moments. In the second section, the author reveals their twisted nature and the horrors she went through at their hands. The book covers domestic abuse and violence, mental abuse, intimidation, and bullying. The account also covers her family origins and describes the relationship dynamics between each family member. Lastly, the author explains how the book cover reflects the way she views her family.

Brutally Funny is an aptly titled book that mirrors Lynda West’s family history and upbringing perfectly. The juxtaposition of tragedy and comedy was unusual and made for an eye-opening read. Most authors choose to tell their stories using a single perspective, either funny or tragic, but Lynda does both. The things her family did were shocking. I could not stop reading this book because I wanted to understand why they were so twisted, and my patience paid off. In the last section, the author discusses her mother’s traumatic time in an orphanage, her father’s relationship with his neglectful mother, her brother's mental condition, and how her sister and brother-in-law shared a creepy relationship. These revelations partially explained their behavior, but did not justify their actions. There was no mention of proper therapy or medical intervention, although her family members were mentally unstable. I was happy that she managed to find love and have her own family. This book has many life lessons, and I highly recommend it to anyone who loves stories that combine the dark and comical sides of life.

Stephanie Chapman

Lynda West’s Brutally Funny is a memoir with a unique twist. Instead of writing about her past chronologically, she presents the dysfunctional family memories in two parts: Comedy and Tragedy. Comedy contains eleven stories with funny moments. A memorable quote is a precursor to each story. She shares how her parents and siblings clashed in several instances. These range from her sister’s engagement to a funeral director who was thirteen years older to her schizophrenic genius brother being declared a domestic terrorist. Comedy ends with her Sunday school punishment and an adult revelation as to why her parents didn’t attend church. Tragedy includes five stories about each member of her family and their role in her life. She includes an epilogue to provide insight into her life’s work and how she would paint her family.
Lynda West held nothing back about her experiences with her family. I liked how her stories were effective at portraying each family member’s personality. The photos included throughout were interesting and gave a face to each person, despite the fictional names they were given. My favorite stories were Identity Theft and Our Ted. Her mother made some valid points by not signing her credit cards to avoid her name being forged. Her brother’s portrayal in Our Ted made me laugh. It was entertaining to see how Lynda built suspense around the moments of levity in Comedy. Tragedy was realistic and eye-opening. The titles Truant, Jezebel, and The Enforcer fit her depictions of each family member’s influence on her life. Her mother was the driving force behind the dysfunctional family. Marguerite seemed trapped in the past treatment she received as a child, which she used against everyone. Brutally Funny is a creative autobiography that readers will find relatable.

Doreen Chombu

Inspired by her traumatic and comical upbringing, Lynda West has written Brutally Funny, a memoir that blends dark humor and satire elements. The book is divided into two parts, the first being a narration of her family’s memorable moments like childhood pranks, learning how to play the piano, shopping with her stubborn mother, and hysterical vacations. The last section exposes the dark and cold nature of her mother, her suppressed father, her violent brother, a crude brother-in-law, and an indifferent sister. The stories are linked and give two contrasting perspectives of the same situations and characters. Get a copy of this book and join Lynda as she divulges her family's twisted and comical nature.

Brutally Funny is a well-written and captivating book. I loved how the author structured the book because it was unique and added to the shock factor of the stories. This book gave me whiplash when the second part began. The image I had built of Lynda West’s family from the first collection of stories was utterly shattered by the stories in the second section. The story about her father’s funeral appears in both parts of the book, and how she wrote the events painted two different pictures of her family. The stories took me on a wild roller coaster of emotions. I laughed, cried, got mad, and by the end, I felt at peace because her art was the ultimate comical revenge. I am in awe of this author’s work and hope to read more from her. This book was amazing.