Navel Gazing Review
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When weíre young, it seems as though we and everyone we love will live forever. But as we get olderóas loved ones pass away and even we begin to experience the aches and pains of an aging bodyówe realize that thatís not the case. In his latest book, Navel Gazing: True Tales of Bodies, Mostly Mine (But Also My Momís Which I Know Sounds Weird), writer and comic Michael Ian Black discusses his own experiences with illness and aging.

Blackís latest book finds him contemplating mortalityóhis own as well as his motherís, as she fights a heartbreaking battle with cancer. As his mother goes through one treatment after another, it makes Black realize that not only is his mother dying, but heís slowly but surely in the process of dying, too. So as he reflects on the unhealthy decisions of his past, he embarks on a quest to improve his health and his physique while searching for some kind of exercise-induced enlightenment in the process.

  
 
It may be categorized as a humor book, but Navel Gazing isnít what readers might be expecting. This isnít just a comicís wacky reflections on health, exercise, and aging. Itís a bittersweet collection of thoughts on life, death, and the quest for meaning.

Not only does Black discuss his motherís deteriorating health, but he also touches on his relationships with other relatives and their own deaths: his father, his grandmother, his troubled aunt and her young son. He talks about his views on suicide and his own health concerns, too. And, in the process, he might cause you to come down with a serious case of hypochondria. All of this talk about sickness and aging bodies could very well make you feel aches and pains and illnesses that arenít really there. Mostly, though, it might make you feel sorry for the authorónot just because his mother is not-so-slowly fading away, but also because he seems to be missing something. In all of his experiences, he seems so desperately searching for something to give his life meaningósomething that he even admits is most likely God.

This is all deep, heavy stuff. But, of course, itís not all deep and heavy. Itís sometimes quite humorous, too. In the midst of the sickness and death and searching for enlightenment, there are also stories about joining the gym, trying to find the perfect sport, and even the authorís attempt at starting a high school punk band. And together, these memories and observations make for a thoughtful, heartfelt, amusing, and generally relatable read.

If youíre looking for a good laugh, youíll probably be disappointed (and even depressed) by Blackís latest literary adventure. Though it has its funny moments, itís often surprisingly gloomy. But itís also a perceptive look at middle age, heath, and mortality.


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