I expect to listen to this book again in the not-too-distant future, because I am sure I missed a lot that I can pick up on a second time. As it is, I see so many of Screwtape's character traits in people I know, as well as in myself. Reading this book was like looking into a mirror in which one hardly recognizes oneself until forced to look long enough to see what is truly there. So often what one sees is very scary.
Unlike Screwtape, we still have the option of changing our lives for the better. That, to me, is the huge lesson of this book
In spite of being leery about books read by their authors, I listened to this book read by
Sedaris himself. My concerns were ungrounded as I quickly realized he was as good a narrator, or maybe I should say performer, as he was an author: he kept me in stitches throughout this whole book. It is a collection of memoirs based on Sedaris' life, but told through exceptionally good writing and with insightful humor, making his drug addiction and other excesses seem forgivable. Throughout the book, I had no doubt that Sedaris accepts responsibility for his mistakes, and that somewhere along the way he decided to get clean, or at least cleaner, and make something of his life. His ability to poke fun at himself and his slightly strange family is evident as he turns event after average event into reasons to laugh out loud. Decidedly gay, he is nevertheless entertaining to all kinds of audiences.
On a personal note, although clever, the only part of the book I did not enjoy were the dog poems. Others will say that is the best part, and I understand. They just came across as smutty to me. My favorite parts were "learning to speak French," and "disdain of computers." So funny!
I love Dave Berry. He makes me smile. He makes me laugh so hard I cry. And sometimes he makes me think. He can be tender and serious, as this book proves out. But mostly he just makes me happy. Sometimes I just can't take another heavy book, and I need a little fun and lightness in my life. That is the time to turn to Dave Barry.
Narrator Arte Johnson is perfect for this book. I just didn't want it to end.
In addition to being brilliantly funny, Fawlty Towers is, at times, a very physical comedy with lots of visual gags (think of the German marching walk and the business with the moose head). They've neatly solved this problem by having the episodes narrated by Manuel, the Spanish waiter (Andrew Sachs). These voice-overs make it clear what's happening, but those who are very familiar with the show might find them unnecessary. There are also discussions with writer and performer John Cleese before each episode, which are well worth listening to if you're a fan and are after some extra insight and knowledge about the show and its creation, but also slightly give away some of the events in the upcoming show (but they don't ruin them at all).
The episodes remain hysterically funny, but also painfully awkward, as they were on first viewing on the BBC. Brilliant work, and well worth a listen to revisit the good (and not so good) folks of Torquay.