Sunday, June 13, 2004

Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim

A review of David Sedaris' new book.

I bought this book at the Borders in San Lois Obispo the day after it was release. It was in a large display at the front of the store. I was there to purchase the first two Harry Potter books for my son to read. On the way to checkout, I passed the display and picked up the book on a whim. I had heard a good review with the author on NPR a few days before. I was also familiar with Sedaris’ work from This American Life, so I thought it would be a good read. As I paid for the books, the clerk looked at me kind of funny, as if to say, “ah Harry Potter and David Sedaris do not go together”, but he though better of it and just voiced, “Wow, you’re the first customer to buy this one”.

I read the book in brief spurts over the next week, sometimes in my truck at a stoplight, sometimes in a few quite moments before class, and occasionally while at lunch. I can read a book anytime, and often do two things at once, like read a book and order my lunch, or read a book while walking. I was reading this book while waiting for my lunch at Fantastic Burger in Carson, a place for truckers, dockworkers and refinery workers to eat, when the staff asked me why I was reading a book about Barbie Dolls. I tried valiantly to explain it was a collection of essays, humor so to speak, and not about Barbie Dolls. I could read what the staff and dinners were thinking as I tried to explain myself. "r i g h t... this guys totally gay". I think my fumbled explanations actually dug the hole a little deeper.

Sedaris’ book contains 22 essays. I devoured each one. My favorite essay was the last; ‘Nuit if the Living Dead.” Sedaris describes his decision to drown a mouse, is caught in the act by strangers in need of aid, and is tortured by the impression he is leaving on them. I laughed all the way through the read; partially because Sedaris is gifted with a wit that is reminiscent of Mark Twain, partly because the situation is just so damn funny, and partially because he connects with the reader so well. We have all been in the same situation, had the same thoughts, felt the same compulsions (except maybe the head touching thing), and felt the same shame.

I recommend the book highly. It is a very good read.