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