Me Talk Pretty One Day (Review)

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Me Talk Pretty One Day
David Sedaris, 2000
272 pp.

Book Review by Molly Lundquist
November 2013

In honesty, I didn't "read" Me Talk Pretty; I listened to it. Even now, simply writing about it, I can hear Sedaris in my head—that voice, with its droll flatness and its slight nasal quality, has the power to make so many of us double over with laughter.

Not all of the essays are hilarious; some are tinged with nostalgia and some carry more than a hint of bitterness. But no matter the emotion conveyed, nearly all are engaging.

Sedaris mines his childhood, and especially his parents, for wonderful effect. One of the loveliest essays, if not the funniest, is about his mother's love for the family's Great Dane. When she wants to take a nap, she shoves the giant animal aside with an endearing "scooch over there big boy." Sedaris lends her voice a  Mae West edge—the result of which has made "scooch over" a favorite phrase in our house.

The title essay puts the adult Sedaris in France where he struggles to learn the language. It's here that his comic chops come spectactularly to the fore. In one section, he recounts how the Christians in his French class tried to explain Easter week to the Muslims. Another, maybe the funniest bit, involves Sedaris's attempts to order meat from the butcher. "Is those the thoughts of cows?"

This is a terrific book to read when you want a break from all the heavy lifting you've been doing over the previous months.

See our Reading Guide for Me Talk Pretty One Day

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