Thursday, December 9, 2010

Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim - David Sedaris (Audio)


After having reviewed "Me Talk Pretty One Day" and "When You Are Engulfed in Flames", I'm not sure how much more I can say about Sedaris, his wit, and his narration skillz. Not everyone loves his brand of humor, but I do, and I will keep coming back for more as long as my library continues to carry his audios. (I am number two in line for "Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk", his latest.)

First of all, the best way - the ONLY way - to experience his humor is through audio. As the narrator, Sedaris delivers his schtick as it was originally intended...dry, slightly whiny, sarcastic, and self-deprecating. And interesting mix, but one that works.

He focuses primarily on various experiences with his quirky family in this installment. Not all the bits are funny. Some are poignant or sad, some just fall flat, but a majority of them make me giggle, and a few extracted big, ugly belly-laughs.

Of course, I want to tell you about the belly-laugh parts, but I know something will get lost in translation. Anyway. Sedaris tells us about the weirdos that lived next door to his family when he was young. In true form, they come trick-or-treating the DAY AFTER Halloween when the Sedaris candy bowl has been depleted. Mother Sedaris asks David to give them some of his candy stash, so he promptly goes to his room and starts stuffing the best goodies into his mouth, nearly choking, but determined to prevent it from falling into undeserving hands. I can almost envision the scene!

He also recalls a conversation he had with someone from the Netherlands about their version of Santa Claus, and begins to compare our folk tales with theirs. It is always fun to stand back and analyze the nonsensical nature of the stories in literal translation:

"A Dutch parent has a decidedly hairier story to relate, telling his children, 'Listen, you might want to pack a few of your things together before going to bed. The former bishop of Turkey will be coming tonight along with six to eight black men. They might put some candy in your shoes, they might stuff you into a sack and take you to Spain, or they might just pretend to kick you. We don't know for sure, but we want you to be prepared.'"

I find Sedaris endearing. He can be a real horse's ass sometimes (and I'm sure his family finds his use of "material" infuriating), and other times oddly vulnerable. His admission of drug addiction, his struggle to come out of the closet and his family's struggle to accept, his obsessive/compulsive urges (like the need to touch people's heads), and his innocence in trying, but failing, to help a disturbed neighbor girl...it all speaks to his humanity.

I don't think this is his best collection, but I still enjoyed it. Or am I just getting used to his style? The stories do seem to all blend together from book to book. My biggest issue at this point is convincing our library to carry some of his other works on audio, because I refuse to read them in print!

3.5 out of 5 stars








18 comments:

Nymeth said...

I love his brand of humour as well. This is the only one of his books I've read, and I really enjoyed it even in print. You're making me want to try audio next time, though!

JoAnn said...

Audio is the only way to go with Sedaris! I bought Holidays on Ice for a quarter at the library book sale, read the first story and laughed, but decided that I HAVE to listen instead.

farmlanebooks said...

I thought you'd score this much higher. I found the Halloween scene you mention quite sad, not at all funny. I thought the only funny bit was the comedy sketch about Christmas, but I think that is because I'm not a fan of his narration. I will try his next book in print and see if that works better for me.

rhapsodyinbooks said...

I'm on the waiting list for him at the library too! (for the audio, that is...)

Anna said...

I haven't tried any of his books yet, but I will definitely go the audio route if I do.

caite said...

see..the audio issue, my audio issue, raises its head...

Zibilee said...

Damn that was a good review! And very representative of the book, in my opinion. I love Sedaris and just finished When You Are Engulfed in Flames. I have to recommend Naked and Me Talk Pretty One Day as the two best out of all his collections, and hope that you can get ahold of them somehow. I would totally rip them to CD and send them out to you, if it weren't for that stupid DRM thing that is on them!! I also agree that audio is the best format for Sedaris, and will be continuing with Squirrel Meets Chipmunk in audio as well. Oh, I just remembered that Holiday's On Ice is a really good read for the Christmas season, and it might make a good read for you too. Can you tell I am a bit excited when it comes to Sedaris?

marthalama said...

I love David Saderis and you're right the only way to "do" his book is to listen to him read it. I've listened to the Santaland Diaries half a dozen times already this season. I also agree this isn't his best but definitely worth a listen.

Darlene said...

I don't think his books are for me but then again I've never tried an audio. I'm glad you enjoy them so much though.

Avid Reader said...

I've read just about all of his books and I'm with you, he's hilarious, but they begin to blend after awhile. I love his books on audio though. Just last night I saw a play version of his story "The Santaland Diaries" from Holidays on Ice and it was too funny.

Julie P. said...

I want to listen to this one too!

Lenore said...

I read this one! I think you're right that it would be even better in audio!

Iliana said...

You are right, Sedaris must be heard! I don't do audio books but I've had the chance to hear him speak at a lit event and he's a hoot!

My favorite books are Naked and Holidays on Ice. So freaking funny. I wasn't as big a fan of this one either but of course even a bad Sedaris book is good.

Coffee and a Book Chick said...

What a great idea to experience Sedaris in audio! I'm thinking this will make a fabulous Christmas present for my in-laws, but might look at one of his other ones first, per your thoughts! Thanks!

ds said...

I've only read Me Talk Pretty One Day, but laughed aloud at the print version. Will definitely take your advice re audio--Sedaris would make the perfect road trip companion!

C.B. James said...

He is best experienced on audio, you're right about that.

I think this one was where we parted ways, though. We've listened to all of the previous books on tape over and over again, love them all. But this one was a once through and that's it experience.

We thought he got a big lazy in the production values. The earlier audiobooks have multiple readers, stories read with his sister Amy and many more songs by Billie Holiday.

He was better in the early days when he really had to work for attention. Now that he's famous....

Jenners said...

I've never listened to him ... just read him (and I loved him anyway). I need to rectify this in 2011.

Kathleen said...

I still haven't read any Sedaris!