Tag Archives: david sedaris

Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk by David Sedaris

Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk by David Sedaris (unabridged audiobook read by David Sedaris, Elaine Stritch, Dylan Baker and Sian Phillips; 3 hrs on 3 discs): These stories are kind of…awful. Not like poorly written – they’re quite well done, as far as that goes – but like, um, awful. Violent and mean-spirited and horrifying and depressing and generally unpleasant. I honestly am not even sure how many of them were supposed to be funny, something I’ve never had difficulty discerning with any of Sedaris’s nonfiction. The limerick at the end of “The Sick Rat and the Healthy Rat” got a bit of a chuckle out of me, but in general I did not enjoy this collection at all.

A note on the audio: Despite the stories not being my cup of tea, all four narrators were brilliant. I was especially glad to hear Baker, as I’d enjoyed his reading of another book ages ago. Funny how if you listen to enough audiobooks you start remembering readers.

Also posted on BookCrossing.

Children Playing Before a Statue of Hercules edited by David Sedaris

Children Playing Before a Statue of Hercules edited by David Sedaris (audiobook with multiple readers; 3 hrs 30 min on 3 discs): A friend gave me this, as we are both Sedaris fans. None of this is his work (save the introduction, which was on par with most of his better essays), but I decided to trust his judgment and try something new. As with most collections, the stories were of varying quality.

Where the Door is Always Open and the Welcome Mat is Out by Patricia Highsmith, read by Cherry Jones: Mildred is rushing around frantically to prepare for her sister Edith’s visit. The reader was great, but the story itself was pretty boring. Maybe it was because I just wasn’t all that interested in the characters, or maybe because all the minutia felt excessively detailed.

Bullet In the Brain by Tobias Wolff, read by Toby Wherry: A fascinating little vignette that stretches out an instant of time into a fully coherent narrative, and it ended at just the right spot too.

Gryphon by Charles Baxter, read by David Sedaris: A new substitute teacher with crazy ideas. Sedaris did an excellent job, which is kind of surprising since he tends to narrate in a sort of monotone, but somehow he managed to get across everything with subtle changes in pitch and inflection. Probably my favorite of the batch.

In the Cemetery Where Al Jolson Is Buried by Amy Hempel, read by Mary-Louise Parker: I’ll be perfectly honest here: I had a whole lot of trouble following this one. Maybe I was just distracted, but I have absolutely no idea what it was about.

Cosmopolitan written and read by Akhil Sharma: A somewhat strange tale about an older Indian man attempting to have an affair with his American neighbor. Sharma probably should not have read his own story, as his cadence tended toward the droning, but I still very much enjoyed the story, and the ending made me smile.

In all, not a bad collection. These are the sorts of stories we’d read in creative writing classes, which gave me weird flashbacks from time to time, but it was a nice break from the string of novels I’d been listening to lately.

Also posted on BookCrossing.

Holidays on Ice by David Sedaris

Holidays on Ice by David Sedaris: Since I haven’t read Barrel Fever, all but one of the stories in this collection were new to me, and I really enjoyed them all. Some of them were more weird than funny, but there were enough laugh-out-loud moments to make up for the bits that fell short of awesome. I especially enjoyed the Santaland Diaries, about Sedaris’s stint as a Macy’s elf, and Front Row Center, which is basically what would happen if a theater critic started covering elementary school Christmas pageants. Definitely recommended, but not if you’re feeling too sentimental about the holidays. Sentimental is one thing this book definitely is not.

Also posted on BookCrossing.

When You are Engulfed in Flames by David Sedaris

When You Are Engulfed in Flames by David Sedaris (unabridged audiobook read by the author): One thing I really appreciate about Sedaris is not only does he share the often unflattering foibles of everyone around him, he never spares himself. Indeed, he often paints himself as the one with the worst intentions and habits. I laughed particularly hard at “In the Waiting Room” and “What I Learned”. The final and longest essay, “The Smoking Section,” goes through his first few months after quitting smoking. It’s made more interesting by the stay in Japan during this time. These essays are sometimes poignant, often funny, and always unexpected. All in all, this is one of Sedaris’s better collections. It doesn’t beat out Me Talk Pretty One Day as my favorite, but it’s probably in second place.

Also posted on BookCrossing.

Naked by David Sedaris

Naked by David Sedaris: As with all of Sedaris’s books, this is a collection of autobiographical essays, mostly humorous. To be honest, this wasn’t one of his better books. A lot of the stories felt simply too long and drawn out, as if they could have been split into two stories about two different things. I should also note that the stories are more sequential, so that things make the most sense when read in the order they are presented in the book. This wasn’t a bad book, to be sure; I laughed in quite a few places. It just isn’t as strong a set of tales as those found in his other books. Recommended for Sedaris fans, but if you’re new to this author, you’d probably be better off trying out something else.

Also posted on BookCrossing.

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