How in the world do I rate this book?
On one hand, there is a lot of truth in it (“They say if you just let babies cry, they will eventually cry themselves out. This is not true. Not only will babies not cry themselves out, but the act of crying actually slows down time itself—the more you let them cry, the slower time goes.”) There is also comedy (“Having a rent-controlled apartment in New York is like living in medieval Europe and having spices.”) There are also some bighearted moments (“I love the story your face tells me because I love you. That is the real gift of marriage, I think. When people talk about “growing old together,” what they are really talking about is the desire to see somebody all the way through, to connect your life with somebody in such a deep way that the word old loses whatever scary power it might have had on us alone.”)
There’s also something else laced throughout the book that makes me uncomfortable. Michael Ian Black shares a lot of facts about his hostile feelings towards his wife and his kids that, while they may be honest, add up to something that feels mean, or at least incomplete. I applaud honesty, and MIB definitely has that. However, there is a difference between honesty and truth. Maybe the difference is completion of context. A friend of mine recently wrote, “Authentic doesn’t mean broken. It means you. Broken and whole. Failing and succeeding. Being led into victory and maturity and growth and sometimes, inevitably, stumbling.” Her point, in part, is that only showing the negatives isn’t any more authentic than only showing the positives. You need to see both, and I’m not sure MIB fully gives both in this book. Of course, it’s his book and his life and his worldview. What he chooses to focus on is up to him. Ultimately, I respected MIB’s vulnerability, even if I didn’t enjoy the book.
As a side note, he mentions Tom Cavanagh in the thank you section of the book (they worked together on the much-loved but Blu-Raysless Ed), as well as Mike Birbiglia. The book felt Birbigliaesque, minus a bit of the warmth.