Treehab: Tales from My Natural Wild Life

When gay stand-up comedian and novelist Bob Smith received his 2007 ALS diagnosis (or, as he calls it "my you're-gonna-die-agnosis"), a friend remembers him saying, "Lou Gehrig's Disease? I don't even like baseball!"

Smith's smart, sassy and endearing essay collection, Treehab, explores a lot of ground--including his love of nature, his travel adventures, his decision to become a father (as a sperm donor to two lesbian friends), his pioneering career (he was the first out gay comedian booked on the Tonight Show and to headline a solo HBO special), and his enduring optimism and search for joy while dealing with the degenerative disease amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.

Smith (Remembrance of Things I Forgot) has a refreshing and twisted sense of humor--especially in the face of mortality. As a preteen rock collector, the first two stones he bought and treasured for years were a green piece of asbestos and some uranium glass that glowed "like it was trying to shout, 'Cancer!' " He and his friends enjoy gallows humor. One friend was envious of Anne Frank's hiding place in Amsterdam ("It had a skylight"). When a friend announces her cat has cancer, Smith asks, "Was she a smoker?" But he can also be thoughtful and inspiring. One essay dismantles the absurdities of most organized world religions, and Smith comes up with his own commandments (including "I shall not believe in a God who is meaner than I am"). Treehab is a delightful, moving and heartfelt collection that showcases the best of Bob Smith. --Kevin Howell, independent reviewer and marketing consultant

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