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.