Monday, July 8, 2013

How many grains of sand are there in the world? A lot. Case closed.

I haven't posted in awhile. It was 'Merica's birthday last week which meant the days leading up to the 4th were very busy, and then the 4th and onwards were busy while I ate grilled food and got sunburned. So you know, I celebrated it the traditional way. Anyway, review time.

I finally, finally, finally got around to reading some David Sedaris. I don't know why I put him off for so long. He always seemed like someone I would enjoy. I'd gotten multiple recommendations to check him out. And yet, much like other books I'm positive I'll love (Eleanor & Park...) I just keep putting them off. I don't know the reason. Maybe I'm worried that I won't love it and then what?

Someone (and if it was you, please let me know because I know it was from some book blog) had recently read a Sedaris book. I'm not sure which one. But anyway, they recommended starting with Me Talk Pretty. And what do you know? I found a copy of Me Talk Pretty on sale. Stars aligning and whatnot.

Sedaris is funny and he' writes like he knows it, but that's fine. He's funny enough that he gets away with it. He writes about his past drug use (but in a very light hearted way), his life in France, and his family, whom I assume are cool with his sharing. He talks about his dad's strange jazz obsession and insistence on eating rotten food. He talks about trying and failing to learn French and spending most of his time in Paris going to see American movies. My favorite stories involved his sister Amy and if he could just write an entire collection about her, that would be terrific. But really, when he talks about how she wore the bottom half of a fat suit to Christmas dinner (I think that was the holiday) one year, how can you not love her?

Overall I didn't feel that the stories don't build upon themselves on some greater theme. Really, it's just a bunch of hilarious things that happened to him, usually because he caused the ridiculousness that falls upon him. He was a performance artist on meth so really, it was either ridiculousness or tragedy that was going to befall him.

It only took me about 2 days to get through this book, and I was so sad when it was over. I read some reviews* that talked about how some of the experiences were embellished or just flat out made up. I don't know how true that is, though I wouldn't be surprised. That said, I don't really care all that much. The essays are entertaining, and I prefer that to sticking to the strict (and possibly boring) truth.I also read reviews where people said he was pretentious. Maybe a little but how pretentious can you be when you're talking about going to the movies (any movies, not just art house ones) is just as cerebral as reading because everyone is lazy and have decided to collectively lower the bar? Perhaps Sedaris's audience is pretentious, but his essays were never insufferable. He seems like he could be, but his writing was fun.

And now, if I may share my favorite story which actually takes place within one of my favorite essays "Picka Pocketoni"
I'd been riding the Chicago el with my sister Amy, who was getting off three or four stops ahead of me. The doors opened, and as she stepped out of the crowded car, she turned around to yell, "So long, David. Good luck beating that rape charge." Everyone onboard had turned to stare at me. Some seemed curious, some seemed frightened, but the overwhelming majority appeared to hate me with a passion I had never before encountered. "That's my sister," I'd said. "She likes to joke around." I laughed and smiled, but it did no good. Every gesture made me appear more guilty, and I ended up getting off at the next stop rather than continue riding alongside people who thought of me as a rapist.
See why I like the Amy stories the best?

I want to read more Sedaris, though I worry that his other books may not live up to this one. But, I'm willing to risk it. If anyone has a Sedaris to try next, I'm all ears.

*I recommend reading some of the Goodreads reviews of this almost as much as I recommend the book itself. At least the ones with 3 or less stars because the amount of visceral hate this book caused is incredible. And confusing.

Title quote page 37

Sedaris, David. Me Talk Pretty One Day. Hachette Book Group, 2000.