Audible brings the printed word to vibrant life. It's such fun to listen while driving or doing the chores.
I read this book after a day of thwarted effort, and it was a perfect escape, a pleasurable dive into David Sedaris's quirky, sharply observed, and often hilarious world.
Audiobooks offer a more intimate, warmer reading experience than the printed page, and Mr. Sedaris's work is a perfect fit for Audible. He performs well, and possesses the gift of mimicry, and hearing him read his own writing heightens the reading experience for the listener, makes it more immediate and alive.
I also like the musical stings that set up each essay reading in the audiobook, but the sound capture on some of the live performance segments wasn't very good. Not a show-stopper but I don't need to hear a audience clapping or laughing to find a given segment funny.
The audio may enhance the work, but the content is what really draws you in and holds you. Mr. Sedaris takes the humdrum and turns it into an opportunity to learn, to observe an unfolding cultural narrative. The simple act of standing in line to board a plane becomes a broad comedy of social manners; his interaction with a telemarketer from a far-away place launches him into an unexpected and poignant story about white privilege in the American south.
Mr. Sedaris writes about personal stuff, but never self-indulgently. Coming of age, his troubles with addiction, his personal obsessions, all are inputs into his essays. But his writing makes them so much more than personal family anecdotes: they have the ring of familiarity, of a universal cultural experience, especially for baby boomers.
Many of us recognize The Father who can only criticize and challenge and sometimes beat the son, and, more broadly, the struggle to communicate that exists in families. He also explores the enormous power that families have to define us, to give meaning to our lives.
Mr. Sedaris comments about his lifelong daily diarizing habit as recording life rather than living it. But his voice is that of someone watching in puzzlement and appreciation, not judgment or a sense of aggrievement.
My favourite essays in the book involve his everyday experience as an American abroad, where ordinary errands become adventures in cultural and social exploration.
At times, the humour is laced with empathy. At other times, the author employs more edgy satire. This is especially apparent in the essays at the end, where he skewers the politics of hatred and bigotry, taking the idea to absurd extremes. I found these stories less interesting because I think they are pure imagination, rather than grounded in observation and experience. Similarly, his dog poems, like the title itself, seemed contrived to me, and this is why I gave this wonderful book a rating of 4 instead of 5.
Since I buy David Sedaris's books not for their titles, but for his unique voice, his wonderful storytelling, comic timing, and brilliant turns of phrase--and I'm still laughing about his description of Australia as "Canada in a thong"--I'd highly recommend "Let's Explore Diabetes With Owls".