In The Media
August 31, 2014
From the unique perspective of David Sedaris comes a new book of essays taking his readers on a bizarre and stimulating world tour. Read more...
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From the unique perspective of David Sedaris comes a new book of essays taking his readers on a bizarre and stimulating world tour. From the perils of French dentistry to the eating habits of the Australian kookaburra, from the squat-style toilets of Beijing to the particular wilderness of a North Carolina Costco, we learn about the absurdity and delight of a curious traveler's experiences. Whether railing against the habits of litterers in the English countryside or marveling over a disembodied human arm in a taxidermist's shop, Sedaris takes us on side-splitting adventures that are not to be forgotten.
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2013-04-29
- Reviewer: Staff
Sedaris's latest essay collection possesses all of the wit, charm, and poignancy his readers have come to expect. His usual cast of delightful characters returns; including a flashback of his father in his underpants berating a schoolboy or, more recently, hounding David into getting a colonoscopy. Many pieces involve travel, animals, or both: his sister Gretchen totes around an insect "kill jar"; in a Denver airport, David engages with a judgmental fellow passenger; and visiting the Australian bush, he has encounters with a kookaburra and a dead wallaby. Seeking a stuffed owl for a Valentine's Day gift leads him to a taxidermist shop where he is shown gruesome oddities and confronts difficult questions about his curiosity. Another essay explores the evolution of David's 35 years-and-counting of keeping a diary and provides some great insight into his writing process. In addition to the personal essays, there are six satirical monologues in which he assumes the role of a character with a ridiculous message. One in particular involves a man's ludicrous response to the legalization of gay marriage in New York, believing his own marriage is now "meaningless". This is a must-read for fans of smart, well-crafted writing with a sense of humor. Agent: Steven Barclay Agency. (May)
Sedaris returns to the hilarious and absurd
David Sedaris’ previous book, a collection of fictional animal stories called Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk, may have worried some of his longtime fans. Had the lovable curmudgeon, famous for his sidesplitting essays about his family’s dysfunction and his misspent youth, abandoned memoir for imaginary stories (however funny and bizarre) about talking animals? After he’d hit the big time—best-selling books, sold-out live performances, homes in England and France—had his own life become too comfortable to be funny?
This latest collection of (mostly) autobiographical essays should put any such worries to rest. Although his life is certainly much happier now than when he was hooked on drugs or working as a department store elf, Sedaris still finds plenty of absurdity in the airports, hotels, book tours and vacation-home renovations that now fill his days. Sedaris is the sort of writer who can make standing in line at a coffee shop an occasion for gleeful, vicarious outrage (and in less time than it takes to steam a cappuccino).
As in his previous book, there are plenty of animals here, though none of them talk. Stuffed owls, mangled roosters, melting sea turtles, skewered mice and a graceful kookaburra populate these pages like the inmates of a psychopath’s barnyard. There are other kinds of beasts here as well. There is his father storming, capricious and pantless, through Sedaris’ childhood. There are the despicable, heartless fanatics whom Sedaris imagines and inhabits in the book’s few fictional pieces. And there is Sedaris himself, so candid about his own moral failings that you almost want to hug him and tell him he’s really not so terrible, even if he did once consider displaying a stuffed Pygmy in his living room.
All this is vintage Sedaris: sharp, strange, moving and funny—proof, if any were needed, that success is no barrier to absurdity and that humans are the strangest talking animals of all.