Navel Gazing: True Tales of Bodies, Mostly Mine (But Also My Mom's, Which I Know Sounds Weird)
Aging and death are inevitable, but it doesn’t mean one must accept it gracefully. Sharp and witty are the best words to describe this philosophical and self-deprecating new memoir in which Michael Ian Black examines his sedentary lifestyle in comparison with his mother’s house-bound life due to debilitating cancer.
In a touching tribute to his mother, Black decides to physically do something with his body, to move about outside and take advantage of his mobility when she is limited by pain and her wheelchair. As the author examines his life in comparison with his mother’s, he also looks back to his childhood and those quirks, foibles, and traumas that were uniquely his mother’s or his mother’s doing—from money to being (wrongly) outed. Black thoughtfully examines his reactions and admits his flaws with great humor, and in the process readers will look up from their own navels to recognize that they aren’t alone.
Whereas Joan Didion’s Year of Magical Thinking brought readers to examine their mortality and the fear of loss, author Black’s does the same but with more humor and less pathos. Black’s Navel Gazing is a far safer memoir to read about mortality and frailty as he combines humor and sarcasm as a safety net for readers, who will find plenty to laugh out loud at, as well as cringe at in embarrassment with empathy.
Readers who have enjoyed Black’s previous books (You’re Not Doing It Right and My Custom Van) will also be fans of Navel Gazing. This is also the ideal book to give anyone who has been worrying about their own or another’s mortality. Though this book doesn’t provide advice on how to cope, it does give insight into another’s life and how he is coping, as well as not coping. It offers ideas on how to accept what we can as it happens, which sometimes is denial, imagining a better version of ourselves we can never achieve, or putting on running shoes and getting away from the thoughts that batter us.