Let's Explore Diabetes with Owls: Essays, etc.
David Sedaris, 2013
Little, Brown & Co.
A guy walks into a bar car and... From here the story could take many turns. When this guy is David Sedaris, the possibilities are endless, but the result is always the same: he will both delight you with twists of humor and intelligence and leave you deeply moved.
Sedaris remembers his father's dinnertime attire (shirtsleeves and underpants), his first colonoscopy (remarkably pleasant), and the time he considered buying the skeleton of a murdered Pygmy. (From the publisher.)
• Birth—December 26, 1956
• Where—Johnson City, New York, USA
• Education—B.F.A., Art Institute of Chicago
• Awards—Thurber Prize; Time Humorist of the Year;
Advocate Lambda Award.
• Currently—lives in London, England, UK
According to Time Out New York, "David Sedaris may be the funniest man alive." He's the sort of writer critics tend to describe not in terms of literary influences and trends, but in terms of what they choked on while reading his latest book. "I spewed a mouthful of pastrami across my desk," admitted Craig Seligman in his New York Times review of Naked.
Sedaris first drew national attention in 1992 with a stint on National Public Radio, on which he recounted his experiences as a Christmas elf at Macy's. He discussed "the code names for various posts, such as 'The Vomit Corner,' a mirrored wall near the Magic Tree" and confided that his response to "I'm going to have you fired" was the desire to lean over and say, "I'm going to have you killed." The radio pieces were such a hit that Sedaris, then working as a house cleaner, started getting offers to write movies, soap operas and Seinfeld episodes.
In subsequent appearances on NPR, Sedaris proved he wasn't just a velvet-clad flash in the pan; he's also wickedly funny on the subjects of smoking, speed, shoplifting and nervous tics. His work began appearing in magazines like Harper's and Mirabella, and his first book Barrel Fever, which included "SantaLand Diaries," was a bestseller. "These hilarious, lively and breathtakingly irreverent stories...made me laugh out loud more than anything I've read in years," wrote Francine Prose in the Washington Post Book World.
Since then, each successive Sedaris volume has zoomed to the top of the bestseller lists. In Naked, he recounts odd jobs like volunteering at a mental hospital, picking apples as a seasonal laborer and stripping woodwork for a Nazi sympathizer. The stocking stuffer-sized Holidays on Ice collects Sedaris' Christmas-themed work, including a fictional holiday newsletter from the homicidal stepmother of a 22-year-old Vietnamese immigrant ("She arrived in this house six weeks ago speaking only the words 'Daddy,' 'Shiny' and 'Five dollar now'. Quite a vocabulary!!!!!").
But Sedaris' best pieces often revolve around his childhood in North Carolina and his family of six siblings, including the brother who talks like a redneck gangsta rapper and the sister who, in a hilarious passage far too dirty to quote here, introduces him to the joys of the Internet. Sedaris' recent book Me Talk Pretty One Day describes, among other things, his efforts to learn French while helping his boyfriend fix up a Normandy farmhouse; he progresses "from speaking like an evil baby to speaking like a hillbilly. 'Is thems the thoughts of cows?' I'd ask the butcher, pointing to the calves' brains displayed in the front window."
Sedaris has been compared to American humorists such as Mark Twain, James Thurber and Dorothy Parker; Publisher's Weekly called him "Garrison Keillor's evil twin." Pretty heady stuff for a man who claims there are cats that weigh more than his IQ score. But as This American Life producer Ira Glass once pointed out, it would be wrong to think of Sedaris as "just a working Joe who happens to put out these perfectly constructed pieces of prose." Measured by his ability to turn his experiences into a sharply satirical, sidesplittingly funny form of art, David Sedaris is no less than a genius.
• Sedaris got his start in radio after This American Life producer Ira Glass saw him perform at Club Lower Links in Chicago. In addition to his NPR commentaries, Sedaris now writes regularly for Esquire.
• Sedaris's younger sister Amy is also a writer and performer; the two have collaborated on plays under the moniker "The Talent Family." Amy Sedaris has appeared onstage as a member of the Second City improv troupe and on Comedy Central in the series Strangers with Candy.
• If I weren't a writer, I'd be a taxidermist," Sedaris said in a chat on Barnes and Noble.com. According to the Boston Phoenix, his collection of stuffed dead animals includes a squirrel, two fruit bats, four Boston terriers and a baby ostrich.
• When asked what book most influenced his career as a writer, he's what he said:
I guess it would be Cathedral by Raymond Carver. His sentences are very simple and straightforward, and he made writing seem deceptively easy—the kind of thing anyone could do if they put their mind to it. (From Barnes & Noble.)
Sedaris is a remarkably skilled storyteller and savvy essayist. He weaves together vivid images and sensations into a coherent whole that packs a serious emotional punch.... Yes, David Sedaris is really that good. And, based on this latest collection, he's getting only better.
Heather Havrilesky - Los Angeles Times
Fresh....funny, whimsical, unexpected, and never obvious....Who would anticipate that an encounter with an Australian bird could be so damn touching?
Sherryl Connelly - New York Daily News
David Sedaris is horribly observant. He sees things as they are.... He'll be telling some weird story, and all of a sudden, just at the end, it turns out not only to be about him, but also about you.
Nancy Dalva- New York Observer
Ridiculously funny....A find for the reader who appreciates a sense of humor....Sedaris, like the great humorists before him, hits a nerve with his wit, which brings the reader into intimate contact with the human condition."
John Henry - Fort Worth Star-Telegram
Sedaris is certainly worthy of hero worship-he so breezily translates the landscape through his bent, prismatic view that he makes you forget what a skillful narrator he is.
Mark Washburn - Charlotte Observer
Artfully milked embarrassing personal incidents for literary laughs...There are plenty of well-cut gems, including one about an ill-fated adoption of some sea turtles that's both hilarious and touching.
Thom Geier - Entertainment Weekly
If you are a David Sedaris fan, any new book from the humorist is cause for celebration. His newest offering, Let's Explore Diabetes with Owls, is no exception. It's quintessential Sedaris....There's always a laugh-out-loud moment just around the corner.
Craig Wilson - USA Today
The funniest writer in America.... Sedaris is thoughtful and sweet in addition to being slyly hilarious.
Leigh Haber - Oprah magazine
David Sedaris has become a signifier of taste and intelligence.... Let's Explore Diabetes with Owls was the kind of book that I finished and just immediately wanted to start reading again.
Anna Peele - Esquire
David Sedaris still talks pretty.
Kathryn Schulz - New York Magazine
Sedaris is the preeminent humorist of his generation.
Whitney Pastorek - Entertainment Weekly
Sedaris's latest essay collection possesses all of the wit, charm, and poignancy his readers have come to expect. His usual cast of delightful characters returns..... Many pieces involve travel, animals, or both.... This is a must-read for fans of smart, well-crafted writing with a sense of humor.
An acute observer and master of the quick, excoriating takedown, Sedaris claims new territory in this exceptionally gutsy and unnerving collection. — Donna Seamen
A more varied and less consistent essay collection from the noted humorist. In middle age, Sedaris (When You Are Engulfed in Flames, 2008) no longer aims as often for laugh-out-loud funny as he did when he attracted a popular following almost two decades ago. Most of these essays revisit many of the areas he's previously mined for hilarity...but much of what he returns to in memory seems less antic and more melancholy than before.... Those who have followed Sedaris through the years will find plenty to enjoy, though not much in the way of surprise or revelation.
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