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


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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: 8.8 x 6.3 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (435 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #127,671 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com 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.

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

I just finished this book and can not wait to get started with the next one.
Stephen Garcia
I have to admit that I am not a fan of short story books, because it seems that just as I am getting into the story it cuts to something entirely new.
Robert D. Shull
This book is jampacked with what David Sedaris is famous for...great and interesting stories about himself and his quirky family.
S. Forman

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

54 of 55 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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28 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Cynthia K. Robertson TOP 500 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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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 4, 2004
Format: Hardcover
The essays in this new book manage to avoid both pat conclusions and unattractive self-pity that the subject matter could make for the author so easy to slide into. Many writers have taken as their subject matter oddball upbringings, eccentric family, and the feeling of being a perennial outsider, but most come across, at least part of the time, as too self-deprecating and too unaware that they aren't the only ones with these problems. Not so here.
In one essay, Sedaris writes about wanting to emulate a cool boy in his grade, even though that kid bullied him, and ends by admitting that he continued to wonder about him long after they parted ways. Most writers would try to end on some note that they've learned their "lesson" but Sedaris effortlessly avoids such pat conclusions. Because of this, even the most personal of the pieces can never be labeled as "naval gazing."
If anything, some of the pieces have enough emotional wallop that their shortness is frustrating. Particularly, I wanted to know if and how he ever reconciled with his father, who threw him out of the house (without explicitly saying so) for being gay. But then, I'm not the writer here.
I found this book to be more mature than the previous two. There is still plenty of almost-too-unbelievable family anecdotes and gross-out descriptions, but for reasons I can't fully explain, the essays seemed to move beyond just mugging for laughs.
Highly recommended.
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