This is one of the funniest, most poignant, most touching books that I have read in recent times. This is a collection of essays, observations on life, part memoir and part opinion. Sedaris has a unique take on life and an ability to observe it in all its shades and to somehow find the humour and poignancy of it all.
There are a lot of humorous writers out there. What makes Sedaris different is that he finds humour in the mundane. A lot of the time, he writes about himself and his family. He is very self deprecating and his cheerful admission of his faults and his foibles serves to make him even more charming.
This book begins with a quest for a stuffed owl that Sedaris wants to get Hugh (his partner) for Valentine’s day and goes on to talk about his experiences with dentistry in France (one of the funniest bits of writing I have come across in a while) to growing up in a large family at a time before “parenting” was invented.
It is clear that he has some very painful memories of his childhood, but he writes about them in a way that is not at all dramatic and all the more poignant for that. There are stories here about the pitfalls of learning a foreign language (again very funny), to President Obama’s election, to getting a colonoscopy, to the conservative reaction to gay marriage…there are a few pieces here that are bitingly satirical, but easy reading all the same.
I heard the audio of this book and the fact that it was Sedaris himself doing the reading made it even more enjoyable.