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You're Not Doing It Right: Tales of…

You're Not Doing It Right: Tales of Marriage, Sex, Death, and Other…

by Michael Ian Black

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This was quite funny and surprisingly touching (or sweet, or some other adjective like that). ( )
  dtn620 | Sep 22, 2013 |
If you're at all familiar with Michael Ian Black's comedy, you know that he will say just about any awful thing you can imagine as if he means it with all his heart. This book isn't written by *that* Michael Ian Black. I mean, okay, he does in fact still say some horrible things as if he means them with all his heart, but there are also glimpses at the humanity lurking behind the statements, and the shared experiences that lead many of us to think the things he says out loud. (If you're not at all familiar with his comedy, and you would be offended by someone's account of dealing with their colicky newborn which includes the sentence, "I hate my stupid baby," you should stay far away from this book.)

The memoir travels roughly chronologically, from being raised by a mother who was in a lesbian relationship after her divorce (which he didn't realize for a while, since all adult relationships seemed weird and confusing as a child anyway), to his father's death, to his relationship with his wife-to-be, to having his own children. Occasionally he doubles back around to talk about his first experiences with girls or high school trauma at the hands of a bully. The book isn't funny; or I should say, it isn't always funny. There's the expected deadpan humor, but a lot of it isn't really played for laughs. He tells stories in which he clearly comes out the bad guy, often in the context of his marriage.

(Digression: I once saw Michael Ian Black in New York City, as we were crossing a street in opposite directions. I didn't say anything to him for two reasons: one, stopping in the middle of a busy NYC intersection is essentially impossible, and even if you could manage it, you'd be taking your life into your hands; and two, he was in conversation with a tall, blonde woman. I realize now it's quite possible the woman was his wife, which makes me glad that the circumstances weren't such that I could talk to him. It would have been very awkward to declare my undying love for him and suggest that we run away together in front of his wife.)

In looking up some information on the book before I was finished, I accidentally read a review (I try not to do this ordinarily) and the comments on it (an even worse idea). Several people took issue with an incident Black describes in the book in which he is arguing with his wife, and in their yelling match she brings up divorce (as he says she often does). He goes on to describe the fact that their daughter is crying in the next room, asking them to stop fighting, and that neither of them goes to comfort her because they're too busy being mad at each other. According to the comments I read, this makes both of them terrible parents. While I obviously don't think that incident should be held up as any great example of parenting techniques, who on earth hasn't gotten into an argument in front of their kids? Said some things that they regretted? Been too angry to calmly explain the situation to the child? Even parents who do explain are likely to sometimes do it in an accusatory manner that casts negativity on the other parent. And parents who don't argue at all often end up with kids who later in life think the world is ending if there's discord in their own relationships, or who just keep it all inside for fear of bringing about a conflict. The point is, you can't realistically win. Unless, of course, you're perfect - in which case, you should obviously be raising everyone's children.

So, in summary: Michael Ian Black sometimes hates his wife and kids, but he also loves them and is fearful he's not doing a good job in his roles as spouse and parent. In other words, he's just like everyone else (but without a filter). If you're the audience for this book, you probably already know that, so what are you waiting for? And consider getting the audio version, because you're gonna hear his voice in your head if you read it to yourself anyway, so why not *actually* hear his voice in your head?! ( )
  ursula | Apr 29, 2013 |
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"You're not doing it right." Writer/comedian Michael Ian Black has been hearing these five words all his life. And now--on the eve of his fortieth birthday--he is finally beginning to wonder why. As a husband and father living in the suburbs, Michael asks the question so many of us ask ourselves at one point or another: How did I end up here? (And also: If Fat Kevin Federline succumbs to his own wasted potential, what does that mean for the rest of us?) The answers to these questions, and others that you probably would have never thought to ask, are painstakingly detailed in Black's debut memoir. Darkly humorous and told with raw honesty, Michael shares his neuroses as he takes on his childhood, his marriage, his children, and his career with candor and deadpan wit in this funny-because-it's-true essay collection.--From publisher description.… (more)

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