I LOVE Sedaris. No other author makes me laugh the way he does. Every time I embark on a new Sedaris book, I have a real fear that he will have run out of funny anecdotes to write about, and I'll be left searching (probably unsuccessfuly) for some other way to satisfy my laugh habit. Thankfully, I had no need to worry about this one.
Some have complained that he sounds "depressed", but I think his deadpan delivery is part of his charm. I wouldn't have it any other way (once saw Santa Land diaries performed by a flaming overexcited actor - totally annoying and unfunny).
If you?ve ever read any of David Sedaris?s biting, laugh-out-loud wit, you?ve missed the biggest treat in the world: hearing him read his work aloud. The runaway success of his last books, Me Talk Pretty One Day and The Santaland Diaries, has put this regular contributor to my favorite radio show (This American Life) on the radar of the average reader, but many people remain woefully unaware how much funnier he is in his own voice. Sedaris writes mainly on his own quirks and those of his equally neurotic family, self-effacing satire about growing up weird in suburban America and staying that way as a traveling gay writer. Although Dress Your Family delivers more of the same, it is a somewhat lesser offering than previous works, perhaps because, as one reviewer noted, the more success you have as a writer, the less chance and time you have to anonymously gather material. Sedaris tries to split the book for his new readers and old devotees: about a third of the book, the funniest, most accessible material, is essays Sedaris lovers will have heard from other sources, like the gut busting take on Dutch Christmas, Six to Eight Black Men, while another third of new material on his family seems a bit slower and more in depth than usual, fascinating for fans, but not as great for new readers.
While some of the stories are funny, and all have some humor in them, most of them leave you feeling uneasy, like you witnessed someone abuse their child. If you are looking for laughs, try Naked, or Me Talk Pretty One Day. This book is for people who want to go beyond the humor to see what really influenced Sedaris (and it's not always funny - in fact, much of it is sad).
I have seen what may be the funniest one act play in history, "The Santaland Diaries" by David Sedaris, many times, so my expectations for this book was pretty high. What I found were moments that reached similar humorous peaks in the play, but what pleased me most was the humanistic side that was revealed.
It is key that he reads it himself-- his nasal, unpolished voice makes the revelations he offers about himself and those in his life engaging and endearing. Couple that with his masterful ability to spin a tale and you should have an entertaining as well as a moving experience.
One final bonus: each short story is a great length for audio format. One problem I have with unabridged books is that I can't review what I read last to resume where I left off. With a book of shorts, that isn't necessary.
Sedaris has such a wonderful way of forming his stories, and he is the perfect narrator for them. Though not as consistantly funny as some of his earlier material, each story seems to have a certain poignancy that reaches out to you in the closing moments, a quiet thoughtfulness like the end of a fable. I appreciated this as much as the humor, and found this audio entirely worthwhile.
First, I must tell you that I have been a huge David Sedaris fan since he started on This American Life. But I agree with the previous reviewer who said that his reading of this book lacks the sparkle of his live and radio presentations. The same stories that had me bent over laughing during the Carnegie Hall recording came across as flat and serious. If you have not heard David Sedaris before, definetly download "Live from Carnegie Hall" or "Me Talk Pretty One Day".
Because this is the first Sedaris audiobook that I've listened to and it made me laugh so hard that I was a hazard on the highway. If this "wasn't the best" I can't wait to hear the others.
My previous experience with David Sedaris' work was When You Are Engulfed in Flames, and after a few months my memory of it was that it was good. After having spent some time on other types of books, I was ready for a few laughs and thought I'd try another of David Sedaris' books.
In this book he again related his personal experiences, most of which were filled with angst. I didn't get to smile or laugh much during this audio book because the stories weren't funny, but they were great 'human experience' stories.
A few were disturbing and I couldn't relate to them because of certain belief systems I am currently operating under. I had a knot in my gut while listening to him recall the teenage boy slumber party with strip poker where another teenage boy had to sit on his lap naked. Or his recollections of panhandling as a teen in order to buy things. And, the story of the elevator ride with the young boy was too long and again full of angst.
So, the stories are great, but maybe not for everyone. And, this is certainly not one to buy if you are looking for cheerful and funny comedy to lighten your heart.
For that I would recommend some of Patrick McManus' story telling. Even though I have no interest in hunting or fishing, his stories are funny and clean and leave me with a positive feeling. After listening to Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim, I didn't feel clean or happy or lightened, just the opposite.
Say something about yourself!
I have enjoyed David Sedaris wit for many years-he has kept me chuckling and lifted my moods with his sly and clever way of talking about his family, friends, and adventures. This book is full of his heartfelt experiences that take on a humorous slant because of his wit, but also because of the way he narrates--listening to him is the very best way to "read" his books.
However, something he wrote recently has me wondering about his ability to write about his family in such a stark (and as it turns out probably true) account of his family's personal issues. I was really saddened to learn of the suicide of David Sedaris sister, Tiffany. Last month he wrote about it in an essay in The New Yorker, and I was surprised that he claimed not to know what could have driven her to such an end--because in this book which came out in 2004, he clearly knew what her life was like. I, probably like most other's, laughed at his account of her living situation which he described as an apartment like a "revolving junk shop" and her kitchen floor which had been stripped of it's linoleum and left with tar paper as a floor. Tiffany, he said, had wanted to show him her artwork -mosaics that she made out of bits of pottery taken from the trash, but he could only think about how her apartment needed cleaning. I assumed he surely was embellishing his tale of such a dismal, unhappy life, but as it turns out, it was probably close to the truth. So, he clearly knew his sister, but says in his article that he had not talked to her for about 8 years (just about the time this book was published.)
Nothing is ever as black and white as it may appear on the surface. Many people deal with hardships, heartache and sadness with laughter--it is a gift to themselves and others' at times. I look forward to listening to his new books, however, maybe I'll appreciate his talents a little differently in the future.
Time flew when I was listening to this book. Sedaris tells stories that are funny, moving, and deeply personal, about his family, his partner, and especially himself. He doesn't just talk about the bright side, either; there's parental moodiness and neglect, at least one lost and wayward adult sibling, and his own raging case of OCD to deal with. I didn't know his family was so big because I'd only heard of Amy (whenever she's on one of the late night shows, I tune in just to see what she's wearing). Sedaris is a very talented humorist, and I look forward to reading (or listening to) more of his work.