So hooked by audio that I have to read books aloud. *If my reviews help, please let me know.
The first time I heard Sedaris, I thought I was listening to the funniest, most clever and original humorist since the early years of George Carlin and Steve Martin, whose live performances had you leaning on complete strangers to help support your racked-with-laughter body to keep you off the floor. Forget polite sophisticated chuckles--these were open-mouthed, tears down your cheeks, ugly-faced guffaws. You never finished a drink before the carbonation went flat...you knew there'd not be even one safe second to swallow before an explosive laugh might send that sparkly beverage spraying out your nose. Sedaris even had the added unique ability to get you laughing at those never before funny, tough memories we all share--those growing up rights of passage moments that elicit laughter through tears. He was (and is) that good at observing life and the ridiculous humor in the everyday.
Maybe I've lost my funny bone, but it seemed like something was missing with this latest collection. I never felt the urge to rewind and listen again, and at times found myself giving an obligatory chuckle out of respect for a comedic genius that has shared better comedy. He is still observant and witty; several of the pieces were great, but there was not much that seemed new and crisp, nothing to catch you off guard and slap you silly. There's a dusty air of reflection, even melancholy, in a few of the pieces that set a tone that stayed with me, in spite of some sunnier funnier bits. But then, maybe unfairly, I always compare his latest to his greatest, the one that had me afraid to drink a Coke even alone at home--Me Talk Pretty One Day; several guffaws better that hooting it up here with the owls.
Fans of Sedaris will still enjoy this, and will probably get plenty of laughs that make it worth the price of admission. Anything that can lift our spirits, give us a little enjoyment, and make us smile is worthwhile, afterall. *Worth mentioning: not a great or consistent production. As usual, there are live bits which you expect to be a little tougher to listen to, but even the studio recorded pieces are tinny and inferior.
I rate as follows: 5 Stars = Loved it. 4 Stars = Really liked it. 3 Stars = Liked it. 2 Stars = Didn't like it. 1 Star = Hated it.
As an avid traveler, this book appealed to me as an opportunity to get a another person's point of view on some places I've never been. After reading the book however, I think anyone with a good sense of humor and curiosity would really enjoy this book.
Between being narrated by the author himself, and the auto-biographical nature of the subject, it's an extremely personal account of this smart, funny man's experiences. I found his insights clever and the experiences with the different individuals in each place were very true to the experience every traveler has when meeting up with people by chance on the road.
He paints a vivid picture of each spot he goes to; Iran (to ski!), the US (famous assassination locations and 9/11 sites) , the Ukraine (Chernobyl), North Korea (State organized tour) and Lebanon (his childhood home).
In each location, something strange, shocking, or unique happens; from being stuck in the elevator from hell and his insanely difficult way of extracting himself from it, to being on the same tour to Chernobyl as a man that has a very bizarre reaction to the site, to heading home to Lebanon only to find he may have attended private school with Osama Bin Laden. Every stop of this fantastic tour had it's own twists and turns, and I loved them all.
I was sorry when it was over, and hope for another book by the author soon.