Tales from My Natural, Wild Life
Living Out: Gay and Lesbian Autobiographies
David Bergman, Joan Larkin, and Raphael Kadushin, Series Editors
Every mosquito bite reminds us we’re still fresh enough to be lunch
In this bitingly funny and often surprising memoir, award-winning author and groundbreaking comedian Bob Smith offers a meditation on the vitality of the natural world—and an intimate portrait of his own darkly humorous and profoundly authentic response to a life-changing illness.
In Treehab—named after a retreat cabin in rural Ontario—Smith muses how he has “always sought the path less traveled.” He rebuffs his diagnosis of ALS as only an unflappable stand-up comic could (“Lou Gehrig’s Disease? But I don’t even like baseball!”) and explores his complex, fulfilling experience of fatherhood, both before and after the onset of the disease.
Stories of his writing and performing life—punctuated by hilariously cutting jokes that comedians tell only to each other—are interspersed with tales of Smith’s enduring relationship with nature: boyhood sojourns in the woods of upstate New York and adult explorations of the remote Alaskan wilderness; snakes and turtles, rocks and minerals; open sky and forest canopy; God and friendship—all recurring touchstones that inspire him to fight for his survival and for the future of his two children.
Aiming his potent, unflinching wit at global warming, equal rights, sex, dogs, Thoreau, and more, Smith demonstrates here the inimitable insight that has made him a beloved voice of a generation. He reminds us that life is perplexing, beautiful, strange, and entirely worth celebrating.
Bob Smith has won multiple honors for his memoirs Openly Bob and Way to Go, Smith and his novels Selfish and Perverse and Remembrance of Things I Forgot. He was the first openly gay comedian to appear on The Tonight Show and among the first to be given his own HBO comedy special. He lives in New York City.
“Smith, a successful comedian and author of both nonfiction and fiction, has lived with Lou Gehrig's disease, and even though he now communicates through his iPad, his wit is as sharp as ever. . . . Never moving too far from his comedic nature, Smith delivers one-liners throughout, and nothing is off-limits. A truth-telling tour conducted by an agile guide.”
“To say that Bob Smith can make a hilarious one-liner out of everything from imminent ecological catastrophe to his own struggles with ALS is to emphasize only one aspect of the beautiful and devastating Treehab. This is a profound meditation on the fragility of life and the enduring power of tolerance, love, and the many ways of creating families. A smart, funny, inspiring guide.”
—Stephen McCauley, author of The Object of My Affection
“Treehab did something completely unexpected: it took me back to the days of my youth when I collected rocks in a box and regarded them all as treasures. That wide-eyed wonder so commonplace in children seems to have sustained Bob Smith all his life, even in the face of overwhelming challenges. He’s damned funny about this, too—hilarious, in fact. Smith doesn’t contrive to inspire us, he just does.”
—Armistead Maupin, author of Tales of the City
“Bob Smith is a diamond with many facets: he is a novelist, a nature nerd, a stand-up comic, a history buff, a gay man, a father, and a person living with ALS. He displays his whole kaleidoscopic self in this wonderful collection of essays, a book as beautiful, funny, and strange as life itself.”
—Christopher Bram, author of Gods and Monsters