Sedaris, humorist and author of the best-selling Me Talk Pretty One Day, once again exhibits his knack for spinning unsettling experiences into pure comic gold.Allison Block
Like his earlier performances, the essays are sardonic, funny and wry, but at the same time there is a new strain of introspection that makes for a book with more emotional resonance, a more complex aftertaste. The embarrassments of adolescence, the difficulties of connecting, the sense of being a perpetual outsiderthese perennial themes of the author are not simply played for self-deprecating laughs in this volume, but are made to yield a more Chekhovian brand of comedy.Michiko Kakutani
In his latest collection, Sedaris has found his heart. This is not to suggest that the author of Me Talk Pretty One Day and other bestselling books has lost his edge. The 27 essays here (many previously published in Esquire, G.Q. or the New Yorker, or broadcast on NPR's This American Life) include his best and funniest writing yet. Here is Sedaris's family in all its odd glory. Here is his father dragging his mortified son over to the home of one of the most popular boys in school, a boy possessed of "an uncanny ability to please people," demanding that the boy's parents pay for the root canal that Sedaris underwent after the boy hit him in the mouth with a rock. Here is his oldest sister, Lisa, imploring him to keep her beloved Amazon parrot out of a proposed movie based on his writing. (" `Will I have to be fat in the movie?' she asked.") Here is his mother, his muse, locking the kids out of the house after one snow day too many, playing the wry, brilliant commentator on his life until her untimely death from cancer. His mother emerges as one of the most poignant and original female characters in contemporary literature. She balances bitter and sweet, tart and rich-and so does Sedaris, because this is what life is like. "You should look at yourself," his mother says in one piece, as young Sedaris crams Halloween candy into his mouth rather than share it. He does what she says and then some, and what emerges is the deepest kind of humor, the human comedy. Author tour. (June) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
"My writing is just a desperate attempt to get laughs. If you get anything else out of it, it's an accident," claims author and playwright Sedaris. That may be, but one can't help but notice that this collection of essays about his childhood, his first major collection in four years, features a "kinder, gentler" Sedaris ("The End of the Affair" is an especially touching tribute to his partner Hugh). But make no mistake; Sedaris is still the master of the well-delivered scathing punch line-even if it is directed at himself. Fans of his previous work will find that this collection contains much of the snappy (and sometimes snippy) writing that has become his trademark. He is particularly skilled at creating grossly unflattering yet affectionate portraits of family members, as when Sedaris's brother presses the rewind button during the video of his daughter's first bowel movement. With Me Talk Pretty optioned for film treatment, Sedaris's star will only continue to rise. And he will undoubtedly have something both poignant and side-splitting to say about that as well. Highly recommended. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 2/1/04.]-Robin Imhof, Univ. of the Pacific Lib., Stockton, CA Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Known for his self-deprecating wit and the harmlessly eccentric antics of his family, Sedaris (Me Talk Pretty One Day, 2000, etc.) can also pinch until it hurts in this collection of autobiographical vignettes. Once again we are treated to the author's gift for deadpan humor, especially when poking fun at his family and neighbors. He draws some of the material from his youth, like the portrait of the folks across the street who didn't own a TV ("What must it be like to be so ignorant and alone?" he wonders) and went trick-or-treating on November first. Or the story of the time his mother, after a fifth snow day in a row, chucked all the Sedaris kids out the door and locked it. To get back in, the older kids devised a plan wherein the youngest, affection-hungry Tiffany, would be hit by a car: "Her eagerness to please is absolute and naked. When we ask her to lie in the middle of the street, her only question was 'Where?' " Some of the tales cover more recent incidents, such as his sister's retrieval of a turkey from a garbage can; when Sedaris beards her about it, she responds, "Listen to you. If it didn't come from Balducci's, if it wasn't raised on polenta and wild baby acorns, it has to be dangerous." But family members' square-peggedness is more than a little pathetic, and the fact that they are fodder for his stories doesn't sit easy with Sedaris. He'll quip, "Your life, your privacy, your occasional sorrow-it's not like you're going to do anything with it," as guilt pokes its nose around the corner of the page. Then he'll hitch himself up and lacerate them once again, but not without affection even when the sting is strongest. Besides, his favorite target is himself: hisobsessive-compulsiveness and his own membership in this company of oddfellows. Sedaris's sense of life's absurdity is on full, fine display, as is his emotional body armor. Fortunately, he has plenty of both. Author tour. Agent: Don Congdon