on March 3, 2012
This book is 243 pages long, and every one of those pages is great. Michael Ian Black has been making me laugh since 1993, but it wasn't until late in 2011, when I heard him do a piece on 'This American Life' about his late father and about Michael becoming a dad himself, that he made me cry. That piece is in this book (Chapter 9: Dead Dad Kid) and it's as heartfelt as anything I've heard or read in years. The rest of this book is just as good.
Don't get me wrong: I still laughed out loud during every chapter of 'You're Not Doing It Right.' But there's as much heart as there is comedy in its pages. Please buy it and read it and then read it again later. Then tell people you read it. When they ask to borrow it, tell them to buy their own. That's how we ensure we get more books in the future from this great writer.
on July 6, 2012
Michael Ian Black nearly abandoned this project, and you can see why. This is not just another giggly book by a comedian-actor. It is deeply, horrifyingly personal. It feels like you are reading the diary of a person struggling with depression, one who happens to be highly intelligent and an unusually good writer.
There is humor in this book, and you'll likely find yourself laughing out loud, but the humor's purpose is only as little candy sprinkles on top of a giant loaf of misery. Although it's likely to make you laugh, you're unlikely to find it funny. There is a difference. The little absurdities and wordplays induce laughter but mostly as a reflex. The overall feeling from this book is profound despair:
* "I wonder if, like me, there are people who occasionally experience the curious, disembodying sensation of not recognizing their present life as their own. It is a feeling I can only describe as being the opposite of déjà vu. Rather than feeling as though you are reliving some unique moment in time, it is as if you are experiencing the mundane activities of your everyday life for the first time. So that's what this book is about, those occasional instants when I do not recognize my life as my own, and I am left wondering how I got here."
* "I know her better than I have ever known anybody, but there are times when I have also never felt more distant from another person. The thing that nobody tells you about marriage is that sometimes it makes you lonelier than being alone ever could."
* "The fatigue reawakens all the scary fantasies I used to have of harming my child. One morning, I am so frustrated and angry when Ruthie refuses to take her bottle that I whip it across the room as hard as I can, splattering formula everywhere and creating a satisfying divot in the drywall. Scarier still is the fact that I don't love this new baby. Not even a little bit. Not now, not when she is a lumpy and hateful annoyance."
The big mystery is why he would confess such terrifyingly personal things to a broad, faceless audience. Why tell us, for example, about faking sadness at the news of his dad's death? Why tell us about fantasies of harming his small children? It's impossible that he was doing these things just for giggles. It was either catharsis or something else. You can get a vague idea from his interview with Marc Maron when he said, "Audiences just want to hear their lives reflected back to them." Based on that quote and based on the content of the confessions, it seems that he's telling ultra-sensitive stories from his life because he suspects that you'll be able to relate to them, and he suspects you'll like that because you'll feel generally less alone with your deepest problems and insecurities.
The problem is that the book is heavy on navel gazing and psychoanalysis and self-consciousness. It is, in other words, heavy on Self. All of his deepest insecurities - fighting with his wife, unfeelingness at his dad's death, fantasies of harming his children, abandoning his dying dog - have to do with his self-ish-ness. He openly acknowledges his selfishness, and yet he goes on writing about his feelings, his problems, his selfishness. It doesn't seem to occur to him that his profound loneliness could be a direct result of his attention to Self at the expense of his attention to others. You can hear it even in his idea that "audiences just want to hear their lives reflected back to them," as though he believes everyone is ceaselessly self-absorbed and that nobody has ever managed to have genuine interest in and concern for things outside themselves.
You get the feeling that he sometimes added humor not because he wanted to nor because it fit well with the story but just because that's what he was expected to do as a guy known for making jokes.
The only thing that kept this book from being unendurably sad and the only reason I recommend it is the first chapter and especially the last two chapters. Not that those chapters are un-sad, but they appear to have been written from a much different state. The second-to-last chapter is the second-best thing I've read about dogs (behind Old Dogs Are the Best Dogs). And the last chapter has a personal message to his wife that I am sure, when he wrote it, made him weep uncontrollably-- in a good way. It was beautifully done. If he had more chapters like the last two this would easily be a 5-star book.
on March 22, 2012
Wow. I did not expect to love this book so much. I totally expected it to make me laugh my face off, because Michael Ian Black is good at that, but I did not expect it to bring me to near tears several times. Maybe almost as many times as it made me laugh out loud (Disclaimer: I was PMSing while reading a good portion of this so... reaction may have been slightly influenced by my enraged uterus, but as I am generally not an overly emotional person during any time of any given month, I don't think that is the case.)
Every page of this book is funny, but that's not what impressed me. What impressed me was the way Michael can take some common experience we all go through and write about it in a way that is both original and totally relatable. I found during the course of this book that we think very similarly, which is great because I love people who think just like I do.
Michael's brand of humor is generally not the kind that appeals to a broad population. You have to be a little smart to appreciate it. But I think his humor in this book is the kind that almost anyone could appreciate, and if you can't, you'll probably at least respect the brutally honest treatment he gives every aspect of his life from dating to marriage to having babies, owning pets, and even buying a car. The whole time I was reading this, I was like "Damn, I can't believe how much I am loving this book." What's more, I actually learned a few things from this book. Things about myself, even. Yes, Michael Ian Black gave me several epiphanies. One on an airplane, another on the subway.
I agree with the other reviews. Get this book, read it, and then tell everyone you know to read it. Michael's shameless pimping on Twitter annoyed me at first, but now I get it... this book deserves to be a best seller so much more than most best sellers out there.
Friends told me that Michael Black was funny but I really didn't know much about him so I read this book without hoping for more than an entertaining and humorous read. There was indeed plenty of humor but also descriptions of moments so touching that I was moved to tears,especially in the last chapter when Black expresses his love for his wife and explains why his marriage has deepened and become richer with time.
These may not seem like original topics ( many authors write about love and marriage) but Black's take, his way of mixing love, angst, boredom, and humor together is unique. He has a comic's knack for the verbal curveball that evokes surprised laughter from readers.
So what is the book "about".... that question people ask but often so hard to sum up when describing a book? Well, as Black notes, he focuses on " those occasional instants when I do not recognize my life as my own and I am left wondering how I got here " and that is definitely a recurring theme. The newborn baby who destroys Black's former routine and life. Looking in the mirror and seeing a 40 year old staring back when he doesn't feel experienced or wise enough to be 40. Black finds himself shocked, disoriented, and confused by parenthood, marital fights and even a period of sudden dizzy spells.
But there are also honest and funny admissions about his flaws as well as what he and his wife gained from marriage counseling. Intense details about their fights emerge. Divorce seems a very real possibility. Then Black wonders " When did our definition of ourselves as a couple become about the things we had to do instead about the people we want to be?"
I fear i'm making all this seem way too deep and serious when much of the book is far lighter - and funnier- than I can express. Black as a quirky personality with hints of dark around the edges - but the quirkiness prevails. When he notes that his infant son's bouts of non-stop crying made time slow down so that " it took eight months to get through four" I nodded in recognition. I've been there...and yes, time with a crying infant seems so very long, even if the cries only last for 15 minutes.
And then there is that last chapter, truly saving the best for last. I was deeply moved when Black expressed his love for his wife and the story her face tells him, evolving year after year,story upon story.
on March 21, 2016
This was a great read but if you're expecting wacky, zany humor like Black's book "My Custom Van", look elsewhere. This is a much heavier, deep read and while it does have funny turns (of course) a lot of it is pretty serious subject matter. As a big fan of Michael Ian Black's writing and comedy I had enough interest in his personal life to be adequately interested in this but I think if I went in with different expectations I may have been a little confused. This would actually be a great book for someone totally unacquainted with Black's humor as well. It is so well written, I feel it could stand alone as a memoir written by anyone. Solid read and very easy to immerse yourself in. I enjoyed it, even the harder to read passages about death in the family or seriously struggling with coping while raising infants/kids. The parenting stuff wasn't anything I could relate to personally but it was still very real and bold. Give this a shot unless you're wanting something to make you laugh from beginning to end (like "My Custom Van" did).
on January 13, 2016
When I first read this book, it changed my life. It made me think about the world in a new way. Every single page contains a new laugh along with a side of truth. Through this masterfully crafted memoir Michael Ian Black has opened to the world a window into his most intimate thoughts and recollections. His intoxicating words played like a symphony as I read, coaxing me to continue all the way to the very end, then start all over!
Michael Ian Black is one of the most well-known and widely respected comedic personalities of the early 21st century. His fans worldwide number in the millions. This book proves he deserves all the fans he can get. A master wordsmith as well as a terrific comedian; is there anything this man can't do?
Overall, You're Not Doing it Right is a delight to read. It is guaranteed to have you laughing so hard the pages get wet with tears! I found myself relating to Michael Ian Black more strongly than I have from any other author. I know for a fact others will too. I highly recommend picking this book up! And don't forget to get his follow-up, Navel Gazing, too!
on June 29, 2014
I've seen this guy - sardonic, sarcastic, irreverent, witty, and down-right funny. I expected to laugh - and I did. What I didn't expect were the insightful, sensitive, almost-made-you-cry moments. Who would have guessed that he is marshmallow-filled?
I loved this book for it's sweet, forthright, and humorous account of life. In particular, I enjoyed reading about his travails as a father. What a candid view of fatherhood! He does not spare himself or his wife in the telling of the miserable parts of child-rearing. Yes, you get that he loves his wife (though sometimes I wonder why) and kids, but he doesn't romanticize the every-day drudgery of life as husband and father. Would-be parents and/or engaged couples should be given this book so that they know what to expect. If they go ahead and take the plunge, at least they will forgive themselves the not-so-idealized moments that will inevitably occur.
I loved this book for it's unexpected sweetness, its humor, and it's candid view of one man's experience as father, husband, son, and friend. Four stars for being well-written and insightful
on April 4, 2012
I'm not sure what impelled me to read this book. It sounded funny, and I had just finished reading the rather long and challenging "Cutting for Stone" by Abraham Verghese. I needed something light.
I should tell you I'm a seventy-year-old African American woman, concert pianist, and writer. I'm married (twice)and have step-grandchildren, but I've never given birth.
You might not think that such a person would enjoy this book, but I'll tell you: I laughed out loud -- a lot. His descriptions about episodes in his life are so endearlingly honest. I've never had children because I thought it would be darned hard, and boy, he has justified my reluctance in spades.
He's a funny guy. Every young father should read this book. He will find an ally in his misery.
And Black's description of buying a BMW was so refreshing. I see these hotshot young (mostly) white guys in their black BMW's playing the role of world conquerors. That chapter just made me chuckle and shake my head.
I won't go on and on. I'll just say that if you want an amusing peek into someone's real life read "You're Not Doing It Right."
on March 7, 2012
Irreverent and ironic but is it funny? Not really in this 65-year-old's humble opinion and I'm not a dried-up old prude. I've laughed at some raunchy stuff but I think I chuckled maybe twice, smiled a bit, and the rest of the time just felt bowled over by Black's candor and honesty.
The book was refreshing to me in a way because it didn't paint a romantic picture of marriage and children. As a widow and mother of one, I found myself nodding in recognition at some of the tales from his less than perfect life. He makes us comfortable with imperfection, craziness, and disorder. He doesn't pretend to be anything he is not. He helps us to accept our humanity--our weaknesses. His stories about his arguments with his wife or raising his two colic-challenged babies alone are worth the price of the book. But there is something for everyone here--tales from his schooldays, his dating life, his experiments with alcohol and drugs, his medical problem, his relationships with pets.
I was hoping to laugh more--noting that so many reviewers were laughing out loud at Black's tales. Maybe I'm just not at the age for finding Black's stories hilarious, but I did get tears in my eyes by the conclusion, and I consider this a plus. Maybe the expression on Black's face on the book cover says it all--this is a man who doesn't find life easy but when all is said and done he finds it rewarding and worthwhile (most of the time).
on December 3, 2012
Love is beautiful but marriage sucks beyond your worst fears. A romantic relationship starts easy and blissful, but slowly and surely deteriorates into hatred, fights, and living hell a decade later. Michael doesn't say in his concluding remarks that he does not want you to get married, and he doesn't say that he regrets getting married and having kids. But you can read it between the lines. Michael says in the final chapter that he loves his wife and doesn't regret his married life, but, in my view, he is just being polite. After all the horrors and nightmarish difficulties of married life that he describes throughout most of the book, the reader hears loud and clear: stay single and never EVER have kids.
Despite the serious subject matter, there is plenty of humor and jokes in this book. The best of Michael Ian Black brand of humor. Half the time he pokes fun at himself. Michael talks candidly about sex and his experiences and thoughts on the subject. He also discusses his and his wife's mental health issues and offers a refreshing perspective on the role of alcohol and psychotropic medication in our lives. He may not know this, but his advice to drink moderately (like a glass of good wine every evening) is in line with the recommendations of Harvard School of Public Health (who devised the Healthy Eating Pyramid, the alternative to the USDA's official food pyramid).
The book is well-written and thoroughly edited (as expected from a major publisher) and surprisingly, I found no typos and no serious formatting problems (unexpected for an ebook from a major publisher).