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Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim Hardcover – June 1, 2004

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Editorial Reviews Review

Whether by nature or by nurture, Ma and Pa Sedaris certainly knew something about raising funny kids. Amy Sedaris has built a cult following for her Comedy Central character Jerri Blank, and David, the more famous of the two siblings, continues to spin his personal history into comedic gold. A good chunk of the material in Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim debuted in other media outlets, such as The New Yorker, but Sedaris's brilliantly written essays deserve repeat reads.

Based on the author's descriptions, nearly every member of his family is funny, although some (like sister Tiffany, perhaps) in a tragic way. In "The Change in Me," Sedaris remembers that his mother was good at imitating people when it helped drive home her point. High-voiced, lovably plain-spoken brother Paul (aka The Rooster, Silly P) has long been a favorite character for Sedaris readers, though Paul's story takes on a serious note when his wife has a difficult pregnancy. The author doesn't shy away from embarrassing moments in his own life, either, including a childhood poker game that strays into strange, psychological territory. Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim provides more evidence that he is a great humorist, memoirist, and raconteur, and readers are lucky to have the opportunity to know him (and his clan) so well. His funny family feels like our own. Perhaps they are luckier still not to know him personally. --Leah Weathersby

From Publishers Weekly

In his latest collection, Sedaris has found his heart. This is not to suggest that the author of Me Talk Pretty One Day and other bestselling books has lost his edge. The 27 essays here (many previously published in Esquire, G.Q. or the New Yorker, or broadcast on PRI's This American Life) include his best and funniest writing yet. Here is Sedaris's family in all its odd glory. Here is his father dragging his mortified son over to the home of one of the most popular boys in school, a boy possessed of "an uncanny ability to please people," demanding that the boy's parents pay for the root canal that Sedaris underwent after the boy hit him in the mouth with a rock. Here is his oldest sister, Lisa, imploring him to keep her beloved Amazon parrot out of a proposed movie based on his writing. ("'Will I have to be fat in the movie?' she asked.") Here is his mother, his muse, locking the kids out of the house after one snow day too many, playing the wry, brilliant commentator on his life until her untimely death from cancer. His mother emerges as one of the most poignant and original female characters in contemporary literature. She balances bitter and sweet, tart and rich—and so does Sedaris, because this is what life is like. "You should look at yourself," his mother says in one piece, as young Sedaris crams Halloween candy into his mouth rather than share it. He does what she says and then some, and what emerges is the deepest kind of humor, the human comedy.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company (June 1, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780316143462
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316143462
  • ASIN: 0316143464
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (479 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #133,765 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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

57 of 58 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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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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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By S. Forman on July 27, 2005
Format: Paperback
This book is jampacked with what David Sedaris is famous for...great and interesting stories about himself and his quirky family. With marvelous wit and a somewhat sarcastic tone, Sedaris makes you believe you know his family as well as he does.

A fun, quick read that can be picked up and put down at a later date, if youre able. Just alot of fun...though prudish readers may be put off at some parts.

David Sedaris is someone Id love to meet just to hear his stories about his offbeat family in person.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Ms. Antoinette P. Burnham on June 17, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Ok, cutting to the chase: yes it's worth it, and no, he's not losing his touch -- but like anyone else with a working brain, the particulars will change over time.
David Sedaris is still the intelligent person's acid humorist, but he is growing to be able to play in two keys at once. The sharp-tongued "what was she thinking??" materialist, and the thoughtful guy who understands the source of his inspiration (mainly family), and honestly gets what they were thinking after all. And get this! Admits it!
If you read The New Yorker and Esquire and some other Lit mags you may have seen much of this material before (hey, a guy's gotta eat between hardcover releases) but much is gained in the compilation. Seriously. I swear you will still suppress an evil snort at regular intervals!
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