Some of you might know Lewis Black as the irritable Jew (as opposed to the amiable Jew) on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, where his weekly segment, “Back in Black,” features him railing against the latest ridiculous politician, trend, or Starbucks location. He also has a stand-up circuit, from which three CDs have been culled, and culminating lately in the Black on Broadway DVD.
That being said, I expected Nothing’s Sacred to be the same sort of thing in a different medium. But it’s not. Actually, the book is a memoir consisting largely of Black’s college years and early 20s, an autobiography that serves not so much as a “Lewis Tells All” session, but a vehicle for Black’s larger point about the 60s, drug use, political evolution, and the birth of hippie-style liberalism. Black’s description of himself as a high school overachiever and an aspiring playwright (having even co-owned a theater at some point) surprised me greatly; his confessions of heavy marijuana and LSD use didn’t. Not really, anyway.
But even though I was a bit taken aback to be reading a memoir and not a rant, I was unexpectedly pleased with the book, as Black has an interesting take on his early years. A lot of what he says sounds like an extension of Hunter S. Thompson’s speech about the light at the end of the tunnel in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Sure, in some sense, the “this is the age of Aquarius” schtick might sound like desperate pining, but in the sense that it gives dimension to Black’s current comedy, I could appreciate it all the more.
Especially near the end of the book, Black manages to sneak in some of his usual apoplectic comedy, but if you’ve heard the rest of his material, you’ll know that he culls it almost verbatim from his CDs and DVD. It’s just not as funny when it’s on the printed page instead of being screamed and stuttered. Luckily, these vituperations are mere asides, rather than any significant portion of the narrative.
At 224 pages, this book is drop in the hat, so even if you have misgivings about this new, introspective Lewis, I’d give it a read. I think it’s well-written enough to merit a try.