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Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim Paperback – May 31, 2005

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

It just isn’t fair: most of us would be lucky to be able to express ourselves in writing half as well as David Sedaris does in his new book, Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim. But on top of his skills with the written word, the author also has substantial gifts as a performer, and he proves this on the audio version of the book. In his essay The Change in Me,Sedaris remembers that his mother was good at imitating people, and it’s clear that he takes after her. Whether he’s doing impressions of high-voiced brother Paul, or recalling times when he and his sisters tried to win good karma by speaking and acting like well-behaved, fairytale children, Sedaris’s nuanced performance hits the right note on both the opening, comedic stories, and the more poignant essays that tend to come later in the reading. In fact, for those who have already read some of the best stories in other publications including The New Yorker, the CD or cassette version of this collection is probably the best bet for furthering your appreciation of the material.

Sedaris’s career is closely linked with two things: audio (he was discovered by NPR’s Ira Glass), and the personal lives of himself and his family. In Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim, he describes fights with his boyfriend, and his sister-in-law’s difficult pregnancy. When sister Lisa complains about the stories involving the family, he writes about that, too. Sedaris's latest provides more evidence that he is a great humorist, memoirist and raconteur, and readers are lucky to have the opportunity to know him so well. Perhaps they are luckier still not to know him personally. --Leah Weathersby --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Sedaris (Me Talk Pretty One Day, etc.) perfects his written essays by going on the road and reading them aloud, so it's no surprise that his new collection is even more hilarious and haunting as an audiobook. All 22 of the book's essays are here, and it's a treasury of riches matched by Sedaris's slightly nasal but enthralling delivery. Sedaris's material has always walked a razor's edge between hilarious and heartbreaking, and never more so than here. Although Sedaris pokes fun at his family, he mixes the laughs with empathy. When he tries to make sense out of his sister's squalid living conditions in "Put a Lid on It," his deadpan descriptions and hyper reactions are hysterically funny, but it's clear that his sister is a complex person, not just a punch line. Likewise, his late mother, previously seen as a chain-smoking, tart-talking dame, gains more depth in the downright spooky "The Girl Next Store." In "The End of the Affair," he and boyfriend Hugh disagree over a romantic movie and he concludes, "Real love amounts to withholding the truth, even when you're offered the perfect opportunity to hurt someone's feelings." Still, Sedaris hasn't lost his irreverence; in "Possession," he tours Anne Frank's annex and imagines how he'd redecorate it.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 257 pages
  • Publisher: Back Bay Books; Reprint edition (May 31, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316010790
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316010795
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.9 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (461 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #11,914 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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More About the Author

With sardonic wit and incisive social critiques, David Sedaris has become one of America 's pre-eminent humor writers. The great skill with which he slices through cultural euphemisms and political correctness proves that Sedaris is a master of satire and one of the most observant writers addressing the human condition today.David Sedaris is the author of the bestsellers Barrel Fever and Holidays on Ice, as well as collections of personal essays, Naked, Me Talk Pretty One Day, and Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim, each of which became immediate bestsellers. There are a total of seven million copies of his books in print and they have been translated into 25 languages. He is the editor of an anthology of stories, , Children Playing Before a Statue of Hercules: An Anthology of Outstanding Stories. His essays appear regularly in Esquire and The New Yorker. Sedaris and his sister, Amy Sedaris, have collaborated under the name "The Talent Family" and have written several plays which have been produced at La Mama, Lincoln Center , and The Drama Department in New York City . These plays include Stump the Host, Stitches, One Woman Shoe, which received an Obie Award, Incident at Cobbler's Knob, and The Book of Liz, which was published in book form by Dramatist's Play Service. His recent collection of essays, titled When You Are Engulfed in Flames, was published in June 2008.David Sedaris's original radio pieces can often be heard on This American Life, distributed nationally by Public Radio International and produced by WBEZ. In 2001, David Sedaris became the third recipient of the Thurber Prize for American Humor. He was named by Time magazine as "Humorist of the Year" in 2001. David Sedaris was nominated for two Grammy Awards for Best Spoken Word Album ("Dress Your Family in Corduroy & Denim") and Best Comedy Album ("David Sedaris: Live at Carnegie Hall"). In 2008 the audio version of When You Are Engulfed in Flames was nominated for a Grammy in the Best Spoken Word category.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

56 of 57 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 30, 2004
Format: Hardcover
While not as sidesplitting in its entirety as "Me Talk Pretty One Day," this was an excellent book. Some of the pieces were still very funny, but there were some pieces that were just touching recollections. What I like is that even when DS is mocking some horrible traits shown by his family members, he also clearly loves them and that love shows through. He knows that you can love someone and not like everything that they do.
There are some clearly funny places though. The author's account of his brother's cooking habits and dog training techniques made me laugh so hard I dropped the book - then I immediately took it to my friend's house so she could read it, but made her read it aloud instead of doing it myself because I know I wouldn't have been able to speak aloud for the last few pages due to the gasping for air.
I also found it interesting that one of his sisters lives in my town - but my neighbor tells me this is not news, she'll introduce herself to you in the local library :)
God forbid we ever have a smoking prohibition, or DS will be in Tourette hell. I believe him utterly when he says that for him, smoking is a good thing.
If you like reading about imperfect people who care about each other but can be quite ludicrous, and observations of human oddity in general, this book is for you. (As are all his other books.) I found the second half of the book to be funnier than the first half.
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29 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Cynthia K. Robertson TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on July 5, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim is my second book by David Sedaris after finishing Holidays on Ice (one of the funniest books, ever). Unlike Holidays, Dress Your Family consists of 22 short stories that are all autobiographical in nature.

Dress Your Family doesn't quite have the belly laughs of Holidays, but it is comical nonetheless. One funny story is about his brother's wedding on the beach with his dogs as attendants (the flower girl was in heat). In another, he plays strip poker with his friends and makes up the rules in order to keep his clothes. Sedaris' self-deprecating humor is also amusing. The author had an unusual childhood, and while most boys were picking up footballs and hockey sticks, Sedaris was picking out wallpaper samples. But Dress Your Family is also filled with the angst of childhood, and most of us will identify with many of these stories. Some are downright heartbreaking. After dropping out of college, his father asks him to move out of the house. Only later does Sedaris learn the real reason: his father disapproves of his homosexuality.

Still, the Sedaris family has center stage here. With mom, dad, four sisters, and a very masculine brother, each one is quirkier than the next. It's hard to tell how much is Sedaris' very keen powers of observation, and how much is exaggeration. In any case, it's no wonder that when odd things happen to his sisters, they all scream at him "and I don't want to see this in one of your books!" Sedaris always promises to keep their secrets, but everyone knows they will appear sometime soon. Sedaris is an amazing writer and storyteller, and it is appropriate that he has such a rich source of material. I'm sure it will keep him going ad infinitum.
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32 of 36 people found the following review helpful By Gail Cooke HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on June 7, 2004
Format: Audio CD
They come in droves, no, in battalions. They're sometimes called Sedaristas or fans of the record breaking best-selling author David Sedaris. He's the fellow who has made a fortune out of relating his life as an outsider, a down-and-outer, and a gay man in a straight world. He's done it with truth, wicked humor, and an uncanny perception allowing him to turn the ordinary into over-the-top.
His latest collection of short stories is now available on CD. They're read, of course, by Sedaris as only he can read them - in the voice familiar to millions on NPR. Whether he's a kid, a mom, or himself, he's in one word terrific.
Many of the selections offered here were taped during live performances. "Who's The Chef?" and "Six to Eight Black Men" were taped during his sell-out appearance at Carnegie Hall, and may also be heard on "David Sedaris Live At Carnegie Hall."
If you haven't heard Sedaris yet, don't waste another minute. He's an original, and he's incredibly entertaining. Laugh out loud funny, you say? That and then some.
- Gail Cooke
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23 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Brett Benner VINE VOICE on June 29, 2004
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I love David Sedaris for the ease at which he can have you in side splitting hysterics. The anticipation of a new collection of essays means at least an hour or two of annoying loved ones and co-workers with, "one more section to read aloud".
However upon finishing this I only mustered up some hearty chuckles. Success hasn't spoiled Sedaris, it's just stripped him of his anonymity. Consequently placing himself in situations where he can silently observe are becoming obsolete.Most of the stories revolve around his family; a melancholic and unflattering collection of portraits that frankly I felt depressed more than amused. There are some very funny moments, but generally the absurd wit that runs through his previous essays was replaced by a sadder, softer tone. Still, fans of his work will find at least some things to giggle over, and that's more than alot of writers can say.
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