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Book Review: Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris

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The danger of writing stories about your life is that after two or three books you’ve used up most of the good anecdotes and you start to write less interesting, less amusing tales.

[ADBLOCKHERE]And that, unfortunately, is what seems to be happening with David Sedaris. Sedaris is best known for his caustic, acerbic tales about his life, which have appeared in three earlier books as well as on the great radio program, This American Life.

Now he’s sharing new stories in this book. But for this reviewer the stories aren’t as funny or as fresh as in his earlier books.

Or perhaps it’s that his act is getting old.

The act being: Guy makes fun of people for being idiots or rude.

Reader laughs, author makes fun of other things, reader laughs. To be fair, as mean as Sedaris is, he at least an equal opportunity insulter, being careful to criticize himself even more than those around him.

Some are funny, including one about falling for a guy mainly because he had a home in France. That includes this great list of what he looks for in a potential boyfriend:

They couldn’t drink more than I did, couldn’t write poetry in notebooks and read it out loud to an audience of strangers and couldn’t use the words flick, freebie, cyberspace, progressive, cyberspace or zeitgeist. They could not consider the human scalp an appropriate pallette for self-expression, could not own a rainbow-striped flag and could not say they had ‘discovered’ any shop or restaurant currently listed in the phone book. Age, race and weight were unimportant. In terms of mutual interest I figured we could spend the rest of our lives discussing how much we hated the aforementioned characterists.

And his tales of going to art school despite having no artistic talent are funny.

But others just don’t seem to go anywhere, are unsatisfying and fall flat.

You’re better off reading his earlier book, Holidays on Ice, for the classic story about dressing up an elf for a Christmas job where he dealt with kids and parents there to get their pictures with Santa Claus.

Or better yet just listen to This American Life. His story always seems to work better when you can hear him telling it.

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About Scott Butki

Scott Butki was a newspaper reporter for more than 10 years before making a career change into education... then into special education. He has been doing special education work for about five years He lives in Austin. He reads at least 50 books a year and has about 15 author interviews each year and, yes, unlike tv hosts he actually reads each one. He is an in-house media critic, a recovering Tetris addict and a proud uncle. He has written articles on practically all topics from zoos to apples and almost everything in between.
  • Ah man, I really dig this book. His tales definitely became less crazy but I found his bits on French culture to be very funny.

  • Hell, Sedaris lampoons himself and his family more than anyone else. Isn’t this the book that has “You Can’t Kill the Rooster,” about his loveable fuckup of a brother? That’s the funniest thing I ever read. The thought of it still makes me laugh. Every now and then I think of getting my own “fuck it bucket” to get me through hard times.

  • Aaron Strout

    I like this book but it’s deffinately got a few dryer points than some of his other works.

    I think it works to advantage in this genre. Relentless laughs are overrated and can be tiresome. His “dry spells” keep enough substance to balance the crazyness.

    I thought he kept up getting accross his point with style the whole read.

  • Mercy Adhiambo

    I love how Sedaris writes.Unfortunately, I cant find any of his books in east Africa! I have read Me talk Pretty one day, and i liked it.

    mercy, Kenya.