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Me Talk Pretty One Day (Sedaris) - Book Reviews

Book Reviews 
Mr. Sedaris comes across, much as he did in Naked, as a self-dramatizing narcissist, by turns egomaniac and self-deprecating, needy and judgmental. He cannot abide people who smoke Merit cigarettes, wear cowboy boots or ''consider the human scalp an appropriate palette for self-expression.'' .... Mr. Sedaris's bitchiness can easily wear thin..., and in the slighter pieces—like one about his brief stint as a writing teacher—his efforts to send up himself and his supporting cast are neither comical nor convincing, merely petulant. Indeed, the stronger chapters in this book tend to be the ones that mix satire with sentiment, brazenness with rumination. Those pieces reveal a writer who is capable not only of being funny, but touching, even tender, too.
Michiko Kakutani - New York Time


[Sedaris's] need to hang onto his neuroses permeates his fourth collection of comic pieces...an assortment of frequently very funny, too-often bland and ultimately frustrating essays. This is not to say that Sedaris is not a very funny writer. Many lines and several of the premises are brilliant, worthy of our best comic essayists—Calvin Trillin, Woody Allen, Christopher Buckley, Dave Barry. At his best, he makes you laugh out loud, which indeed may be worth the price of admission.
Jonathan Reynolds - New York Times Book Review


His brilliance resides in a capacity to surprise, associate, and disassociate, and the result is something like watching lightning strike in slow motion.
Boston Book Review


Deftly navigates some unsettling subject matter.... Ultimately, it's his notes of rapture that leave the strongest impressions.
Seattle Times


If wit were measured in people, Sedaris would be China...his talent is that huge.... Sedaris' wit should be regulated. Experiences this enjoyable are usually illegal.
Denver Rocky Mountain News


Sedaris is Garrison Keillor's evil twin: like the Minnesota humorist, Sedaris (Naked) focuses on the icy patches that mark life's sidewalk, though the ice in his work is much more slippery and the falls much more spectacularly funny than in Keillor's. Many of the 27 short essays collected here (which appeared originally in The New Yorker, Esquire and elsewhere) deal with his father, Lou, to whom the book is dedicated. Lou is a micromanager who tries to get his uninterested children to form a jazz combo and, when that fails, insists on boosting David's career as a performance artist by heckling him from the audience. Sedaris suggests that his father's punishment for being overly involved in his kids' artistic lives is David's brother Paul, otherwise known as "The Rooster," a half-literate miscreant whose language is outrageously profane. Sedaris also writes here about the time he spent in France and the difficulty of learning another language. After several extended stays in a little Norman village and in Paris, Sedaris had progressed, he observes, "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." But in English, Sedaris is nothing if not nimble: in one essay he goes from his cat's cremation to his mother's in a way that somehow manages to remain reverent to both of the departed. "Reliable sources" have told Sedaris that he has "tended to exhaust people," and true to form, he will exhaust readers of this new book, too—with helpless laughter.
Publishers Weekly


Sedaris, noted essayist and NPR radio commentator, is a master at turning his life experiences into witty vignettes that both entertain and comment on the human condition. This latest collection draws on his quirky childhood in North Carolina, where he was subjected to speech therapy sessions to correct his lisp; he countered by conveniently avoiding words that contained "s" sounds. Additional family recollections include his father's desire to create a jazz combo from his offspring—unfortunately, none of them exhibited any talent or desire to follow this career path, but Sedaris uses this opportunity to deliver a stellar Billie Holiday rendition. From there he moves onto a brief stint as a "clearly unqualified" writing teacher in Chicago, where his unorthodox lesson plans included watching soap operas and having the students write "guessays" on what would happen in the next episode. Then it's on to New York and ultimately to France. Sedaris chronicles his attempts to learn French and the confusion experienced by people who don't share the same culture or language. A little sadder at times and overall a little less uproariously funny than in previous works, Sedaris remains the champion of the underdog. Once you listen to him read his own words, it's hard to imagine settling for just the book. Very highly recommended for all libraries. —Gloria Maxwell, Penn Valley Community Coll., Kansas City, MO
Library Journal


The undisputed champion of the self-conscious and the self-deprecating returns with yet more autobiographical gems from his apparently inexhaustible cache. Sedaris at first mines what may be the most idiosyncratic, if innocuous, childhood since the McCourt clan. Here is father Lou, who's propositioned, via phone, by married family friend Mrs. Midland ("Oh, Lou. It just feels so good to...talk to someone who really...understands"). Only years later is it divulged that "Mrs. Midland" was impersonated by Lou's 12-year-old daughter Amy. (Lou, to the prankster's relief, always politely declined Mrs. Midland's overtures.) Meanwhile, Mrs. Sedaris—soon after she's put a beloved sick cat to sleep—is terrorized by bogus reports of a "miraculous new cure for feline leukemia," all orchestrated by her bitter children. Brilliant evildoing in this family is not unique to the author. Sedaris (also an essayist on National Public Radio) approaches comic preeminence as he details his futile attempts, as an adult, to learn the French language. Having moved to Paris, he enrolls in French class and struggles endlessly with the logic in assigning inanimate objects a gender ("Why refer to Lady Flesh Wound or Good Sir Dishrag when these things could never live up to all that their sex implied?"). After months of this, Sedaris finds that the first French-spoken sentiment he's fully understood has been directed to him by his sadistic teacher: "Every day spent with you is like having a cesarean section." Among these misadventures, Sedaris catalogs his many bugaboos: the cigarette ban in NewYork restaurants ("I'm always searching the menu in hope that some courageous young chef has finally recognized tobacco as a vegetable"); the appending of company Web addresses to television commercials ("Who really wants to know more about Procter & Gamble?"); and a scatological dilemma that would likely remain taboo in most households. Naughty good fun from an impossibly sardonic rogue, quickly rising to Twainian stature.
Kirkus Reviews




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