My love of David Sedaris has caused me to break one of my 2013 resolutions. I had challenged myself to stop buying new books (the exception being few digital downloads for my Kindle while on vacation) and to plow through the books already on my shelves. I just couldn't hold out for my upcoming summer trip to Europe and had to purchase the latest Sedaris book NOW!!!!
As with all of his previous essay collections, humorist Sedaris reaches into the seemingly bottomless well of quirky personal stories for his latest book, Let's Explore Diabetes with Owls.
I've had the pleasure of seeing Sedaris read at UCLA for the last three years. I'm not a big fan of audio books, but Sedaris reading his own essays would be a big exception. I probably heard him read about 1/3 of this book over the years at UCLA and as I was reading them now, I could recall his cadence and tone. Sedaris is as much of a verbal storyteller as he is an author and nothing in my imagination can match his unique form of sarcasm and wit. These stories beg to be heard, not just read!
It's hard to pick a favorite from the collection, but if pressed, Understanding Understanding Owls, is a stand-out. I heard Sedaris read this one at UCLA and even though I knew where the story was going, it still put me in a giggle fit. It's about the perils of being known for collecting a particular object and the joy of finding the perfect Valentine's Day present, even when that present comes from a taxidermy shop. Actually, Especially when that present comes from the taxidermy shop.
The collection isn't strictly non-fiction. Sedaris also write pieces that at the start of the book he states are intended to be read as monologues. One of my favorites is the character of Cassie Hasselback, a fervent Christian, ranting about her views on modern society in the piece, If I Ruled the World. It's dripping with sarcasm and utterly hilarious.
I love the way Sedaris' brain works and how he can just riff on everyone and everything. He has such a great perspective. Although his writing is often comedic, it is just as likely to have a serious undertone. It's this ability to balance between the two that really draws me to his work.
Another great collection from a fantastic author.