Navel Gazing: True Tales of Bodies, Mostly Mine (but Also My Mom’s, Which I Know Sounds Weird)

Michael Black. Gallery, $24.99 (208p) ISBN 978-1-4767-4882-5

Actor and comedian Black delivers a solid, sensitive, and often appropriately silly look at “time and family and the body” in his second memoir (after You’re Not Doing It Right, which focused on romantic relationships and marriage). Black discusses the ways he began to think about himself “from a physical perspective, as opposed to a more mental or creative perspective.” This shift began when his mother was diagnosed with a degenerative, inoperable bone condition, and it deepened after he turned 40. Black uses his account of his mother’s painful illness as a jumping-off point for hilarious and insightful riffs on religion (“Although I can’t quite bring myself to believe in God, I pretty much believe in everything else”), why he hates running (“I, too, have experienced the runner’s high. I get it every time I stop”), and buying life insurance (“A great way to guarantee I’ll live, because I have never outwitted a corporation and I doubt I ever will”). Unlike many other books by comedians, this memoir never feels like a series of onstage routines transcribed to make a buck. Black’s examination of the many meanings of being a middle-aged father, husband, and son is an insightful and eminently readable story. Agent: Barry Goldblatt, Barry Goldblatt Literary Agency. (Jan.)
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