Michael Ian Black is VERY frank about his life and its very normal, even banal problems in this memoir. Oh, you and your wife fight about chores? YourMichael Ian Black is VERY frank about his life and its very normal, even banal problems in this memoir. Oh, you and your wife fight about chores? Your babies are a pain in the ass to take care of when you only want to be sleeping? You got picked on in middle school because you weren't cool? This material should not make for an interesting read. The thing is, though, that Michael Ian Black is hilarious. His brief stories are ordered perfectly to jump from his present day back to a relevant childhood story, back to the present day in a way that improves each one. The banality of his problems makes them supremely relatable, and maybe has the power to make your own mundane problems a bit funnier? Maybe? Maybe arguing about who's going to clean the bathroom can be funny if only I can word it right?? At the very least, I'm pretty sure, after gulping this book down in basically one sitting, that everyone else's life is at least as shitty (and nonetheless happy) as mine....more
This is the sixth book by Bill Bryson that I've read, and it is easily my least favorite. I normally find his combination of gruffness and wondermentThis is the sixth book by Bill Bryson that I've read, and it is easily my least favorite. I normally find his combination of gruffness and wonderment of his surroundings funny, borderline hilarious. In this book I found him mostly cranky and disagreeable, and even offensive on occasion (I don't think a publisher would have allowed his musings on the spectacle of fat people eating were it published today, and I hope he regrets writing that bit). He (or more likely, the publisher) also seems to have taken for granted that we know a good amount of British geography, since at least in my edition, there was no good map of his travels. I know a decent amount about British geography for an American: London is in the south, Edinburgh is in the north, and in between there are lots of working class towns with soccer teams that I enjoy watching on tv when I get the chance. But that's it. If it doesn't have a soccer team and it wasn't mentioned in passing in Harry Potter, I have no idea where you are or what you're talking about. A decent map sure would help.
Even without a map handy, I might have enjoyed my reading more if Bryson had managed to paint colorful pictures of each town that gave me my own mental geography. However, his habit of checking into a poorly chosen bad hotel, wandering through the rain for mediocre food and beer, and lamenting any mall in sight just made me wonder how I might secure a book deal to fund my own cranky wanderings through, say, the Chicago suburbs. My mental map of Britain still has landmarks for London, Edinburgh, and now a bunch of randomly placed dots of small, uninteresting towns in between where I could have once seen great buildings if they hadn't been replaced by ugly malls. Well, that was a productive 300 pages. I'll be sure to add all those towns to my bucket list....more
This is an amazing look into Apartheid South Africa through the autobiography of a black boy growing up there. He learned to play tennis as his way ouThis is an amazing look into Apartheid South Africa through the autobiography of a black boy growing up there. He learned to play tennis as his way out....more