Friday, December 31, 2010

"I'm Dreaming Of A Black Christmas" by Lewis Black

Usually New Years is the time of the year that we associate with personal reflection, but lucky for us Lewis Black doesn't wait until a specially sanctioned holiday to bitch, gripe, moan, and ultimately come to a sober and reasoned understanding (full of sound and fury) about just what the Hell is going on.  I'm Dreaming of a Black Christmas proves this, and it proves it with style and substance in a neat and tidy 192 page package.  There is no ribbon, there is no bow, there isn't even wrapping paper to cover this gift.  Because Lewis Black saves all of his time and energy for his thought processes, and delivers us the gift we all could probably used at the end of this 2010 we've all had...the gift of rage.

I'm Dreaming of a Black Christmas gives us not only Lewis Black's feelings on the holiday (less greed for ourselves, more charity to others) but a chronicle of his usual Christmas routine, as well as a lot of self reflection and self analyzing anecdotes that tie into his usual stops and actions during the Holiday Season.  I would even dare say that Black's writing shows us more of his personal psyche than any of his stand up bits ever have.  (Note: I have not read either Nothing's Sacred or Me of Little Faith, so I'm not sure how much of a better, more comprehensive job they've done encapsulating his life, but after this book I surely will find out.)  Married young, Lewis thought he was having a child with his wife...until it turned out she was carrying someone else's little bundle of joy.  For him though, it was a bundle that would explode into divorce, and a lifelong aversion to commitment and fatherhood.  However adverse he is though, he enjoys the fact that through his friends and their families, he has a brief moment where he can feel a party to the life he wished he could have had, if only he'd met the right girl.  It is with that penultimate realization that Black realizes the true joy of Christmas, which is gathering around those you love and those you care about, if only to enjoy a few hours of uninterrupted, unspoiled joy and love.  (Also, as a bonus section, Black recounts his USO tour with Robin Williams, Kid Rock, and Lance Armstrong.  Trust me, it's as good as it sounds.)

Lewis Black is the perfect example of the dichotomy people should embody:  through the love of family and friends, we enrich ourselves; but we must also enrich ourselves by scrutinizing things and demanding more than we are usually given by the world.  We have to be pickier, but more generous; more compassionate, but much more abrasive; a little kinder,  but a little crueler at the same time.  Ultimately, we must be peaceful people, but allow ourselves to fight the right battles for the right things and stop being the sheep we choose to be on a day in/day out basis.  Of course, I'm reading much more into the serious angle of the book and completely underselling its humorous elements.  Yes, Lewis Black rants in his trademark dark style.  Yes, he makes points and laughs at certain figures in our lives that we take as punching bags.  Most importantly, he makes us laugh in a way that inspires us to be better.  Not because we can, but because we must.

As the last book I've read in 2010, I can easily recommend Lewis Black as a cap off to 2010, as well as the perfect way to start 2011.  You're going to be looking back on the recently passed Holiday Season anyway, you may as well do it with the Host of Christmas Fury.  Happy New Year, everyone!  Good reading to you all!

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