You're Not Doing It Right is proof.
Like his previous book My Custom Van: And 50 Other Mind-Blowing Essays that Will Blow Your Mind All Over Your Face, You're Not Doing It Right is a series of vignettes, this time loosely connected by themes of love, sex, family and fatherhood. The title is a clever blanket description of the many awkward situations Black seems to have found himself in throughout his life, but it's also a warning to the reader. Black never attempts to tell the story of how he became a husband and a father in a typical way, because in his mind he didn't experience it typically (if there is such a thing). The result is a comic memoir of often astounding honesty.
The stories in You're Not Doing It Right range from tales of how Black first met his wife to how they came to opt for children to what their fights are like. The book is unflinchingly confessional, full of dark moments and uncertainties with very deep roots. The comedy stems both from Black's dry delivery (which comes across just as well in print as it does live) and from a sense of absolute sincerity that comes across on every page. He talks about how often the word "divorce" comes up in his house without flinching, but his love for his wife is never far from the reader's mind. Likewise, when he talks about the maddening sleeplessness that comes from having children, there's never doubt that he loves his kids. It makes for a remarkably real reading experience, something other comics might have preferred to gloss over with silly slice of life exaggerations or fantastic metaphorical rants comparing life with kids to something bizarre. For Black, his life is bizarre enough without the metaphors.
The point is that You're Not Doing It Right is a rarity among comic memoirs in that it never feels that Black is trying to be funny. He just is. His life (like everyone's, let's be honest) is filled with mishaps and disappointments and frustrations, and as you read about them you may find yourself often laughing in spite of how close to home those things hit you. But Black counterweights all that with a sense of sincere bemusement at the way his life has worked out. It's not a surreal treatise of silliness, nor is it a comedic pity party. It's a memoir in the most genuine and brave way, and that's a large part of why it's such fun to read.
You're Not Doing It Right is on sale everywhere Feb. 28.