Before I read this memoir, You're Not Doing It Right: Tales of Marriage, Sex, Death, and Other Humiliations, I'd never heard of the author Michael Ian Black. After reading it, I still know little about his career, because he barely mentions what he does. Black was on a comedy show on MTV in the early 1990s and he's been a TV and movie writer and actor most of his adult life. The reason I read You're Not Doing It Right is because Ruben Bolling strongly recommended it on a recent episode of Gweek (Gweek 055, with Rainn Wilson).
Ruben and I are both fans of Little Lulu and Uncle Scrooge, so I figured if he liked this book, so would I. And I was right! You're Not Doing It Right starts out as a sarcastically funny memoir of Black's life as a young, horny pick-up artist with a terrible track record. But as it goes on, it becomes a much darker and revealing confession of a middle-aged man struggling with his marriage, his family life, and his painful insecurities.
Black is brave to write openly about the inner goings-on of his marriage counseling sessions. I'm surprised his wife was OK with him being public about their troubled relationship. His two chapters on the misery of caring for newborn babies ("I Hate My Baby" and "Baby Jail") were refreshing and I completely related to his experiences of having no sleep yet being responsible for tending to a perpetually screaming, shitting infant for months on end. Taking care of little babies is hideous (update: of course it's worth it, there are amazing moments that I wouldn't trade for anything, and I love my kids more than anything), and I'm thankful every day that my kids are out of diapers.
If you're looking for an inspirational book about marriage and parenthood, look elsewhere -- this is heavy stuff. But if you're in the mood for a dose of messy reality mixed with dark humor, Black delivers.
Mark Frauenfelder is the founder of Boing Boing and the editor-in-chief of MAKE and Cool Tools. Twitter: @frauenfelder. Come and hear Mark speak at the ALA conference in Chicago on July 1.