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Me Talk Pretty One Day Hardcover – May 2, 2000


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company; 1st edition (May 2, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316777722
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316777728
  • Product Dimensions: 8.6 x 5.8 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,124 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #71,637 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

David Sedaris became a star autobiographer on public radio, onstage in New York, and on bestseller lists, mostly on the strength of "SantaLand Diaries," a scathing, hilarious account of his stint as a Christmas elf at Macy's. (It's in two separate collections, both worth owning, Barrel Fever and the Christmas-themed Holidays on Ice.) Sedaris's caustic gift has not deserted him in his fourth book, which mines poignant comedy from his peculiar childhood in North Carolina, his bizarre career path, and his move with his lover to France. Though his anarchic inclination to digress is his glory, Sedaris does have a theme in these reminiscences: the inability of humans to communicate. The title is his rendition in transliterated English of how he and his fellow students of French in Paris mangle the Gallic language. In the essay "Jesus Shaves," he and his classmates from many nations try to convey the concept of Easter to a Moroccan Muslim. "It is a party for the little boy of God," says one. "Then he be die one day on two... morsels of... lumber," says another. Sedaris muses on the disputes between his Protestant mother and his father, a Greek Orthodox guy whose Easter fell on a different day. Other essays explicate his deep kinship with his eccentric mom and absurd alienation from his IBM-exec dad: "To me, the greatest mystery of science continues to be that a man could father six children who shared absolutely none of his interests."

Every glimpse we get of Sedaris's family and acquaintances delivers laughs and insights. He thwarts his North Carolina speech therapist ("for whom the word pen had two syllables") by cleverly avoiding all words with s sounds, which reveal the lisp she sought to correct. His midget guitar teacher, Mister Mancini, is unaware that Sedaris doesn't share his obsession with breasts, and sings "Light My Fire" all wrong--"as if he were a Webelo scout demanding a match." As a remarkably unqualified teacher at the Art Institute of Chicago, Sedaris had his class watch soap operas and assign "guessays" on what would happen in the next day's episode.

It all adds up to the most distinctively skewed autobiography since Spalding Gray's Swimming to Cambodia. The only possible reason not to read this book is if you'd rather hear the author's intrinsically funny speaking voice narrating his story. In that case, get Me Talk Pretty One Day on audio. --Tim Appelo

From Publishers Weekly

Sedaris is Garrison Keillor's evil twin: like the Minnesota humorist, Sedaris (Naked) focuses on the icy patches that mar 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, tooDwith helpless laughter. 16-city author tour. (June)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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.

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Customer Reviews

It's book makes me laugh out loud as I read!
Samantha in Bako
Yes, most of these essays are quite funny but by the time I was halfway through, I found the author to be way too judgemental in his opinions.
Tracey A. Nettell
David shares stories about his life and family that are twisted, funny, and wonderful.
John Burnett

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

215 of 228 people found the following review helpful By The Gooch on July 9, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I have to admit I was a bit hesitant to read this book. My feeling was that this was just a cheap attempt to capitalize on the success of "Naked", and to write a book that was essentially exactly the same. I'm happy to report that my fears were unfounded.
Sedaris again proves he is perhaps the funniest writer in America. The best pieces in here are funny to the point that I almost needed an oxygen tank to restore normal breathing after laughing so hard for so long. In fact, the funniest pieces are so good that when you get to a story that merely makes you chuckle softly to yourself, it seems like a let-down.
The most consistently hilarious stories in "Me Talk Pretty One Day" are the ones dealing with the odd idiosyncrosies of Sedaris' father. However, by far the funniest story of the bunch had to be "You Can't Kill the Rooster", about Sedaris' foul-mouthed, white trash younger brother.
Admittedly, I started to get somewhat disappointed about halfway through the book, as that is where a few stories that can be best described as "filler" seemed to seep in. But I am happy to report that at that point the book quickly moves to the stories detailing Sedaris' experience of living in France, and the hilarity starts all over again. Recommending this is simple...if you like to laugh, read it, if you hate laughing, don't read it.
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263 of 286 people found the following review helpful By Carole Burrage on June 6, 2000
Format: Hardcover
In "Barrel Fever" and "Naked," David Sedaris let his imagination run wild in fictional stories. "Me Talk Pretty One Day" differs from his previous collections in that he confined these writings to autobiography. Fortunately, his essays based on truth are as hilarious (though perhaps not as wildly farfetched) as those he makes up entirely. Coming from a family that includes a "tanorexic," the Rooster (the name that DS's brother calls himself), a sister that wears fat suits and cosmetic bruises, a father that hordes spoiled fruit, and a mother who fills Easter baskets with cartons of cigarettes, he has an unusually rich background to draw from. The second half of the book deals with his life as an American living in Paris. In addition to the charming misanthropy that is his trademark, these essays provide some dead-on observations of Americans by an American.
One warning: avoid reading this collection in public if laughing so hard you soak yourself is something you might find at all embarrassing. David Sedaris is simply the funniest person writing today.
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84 of 90 people found the following review helpful By "iheartcrass" on June 20, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Ok. If an author can make you laugh about a drug addicted infant being murdered in a washing machine (check out **Barrel Fever**), he's either the funniest thing going...or you're just a sick so and so...
Hmmmm. kinda makes you wonder....
Anyway, This is another hell-larious collection of stories by one of the funniest authors to grip a pen. The first half of this great book kinda extends on the Sedaris family lore that was touched upon in Barrel Fever and Naked. We learn about David's mom who perks up the Easter baskets with tobacco products, his dad who has an unusual warmth for rotting fruit, his brother The Rooster (not to be confused with the family pet) and his wickedly funny sister (amy sedaris from the comedy central show 'strangers with candy').
The second half of this riotously funny book is a string of tales of Davids (mis)adventures as a misanthropic American in Paris. Gene Kelly he is not...but that's what makes it so smashingly silly...
I really dig this book because it has that rare abiltiy to make you laugh out loud. And that's priceless in itself. I also really dig this book because while reading this, part of you will be thinking 'this boy really has problems...what a screwy family...' and the other part of you will be thinking 'Oh, my gosh...that reminds me of my sister...that reminds me of my crazy father...'. Which ever camp you're sitting in, this book will charm you right out of your seat... David Sedaris may talk pretty someday, but he writes amazingly right now.... xo
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60 of 64 people found the following review helpful By R. Peterson on August 5, 2000
Format: Hardcover
My cousin, Lisa, and I share many satisfying and hilarous experiences (college roommates being just one), and for whatever reason, we are David Sedaris soulmates. After she read my review of "Naked" [...] she has been a fan. This year for my birthday, she paid me back ten-fold with "Me Talk Pretty One Day," the best Sedaris yet. Most of Sedaris' work is what you might call "sort of" autobiographical. I say, "sort of" because it is a little hard for me to believe all of what he writes is true - embellished truths? Absolutely. From his childhood in North Carolina (filled with wise-cracking, drinking, smoking mother, psycho younger brother (The "Rooster") and odd-ball father (to whom he dedicates the book), we read these funny short pieces about his speech therapist (a speech 'nazi'), his midget guitar teacher (his father had dreams of the kids being a famous musical group), his drug abuse experiences, and finally, a number of pieces about learning French and living in France, where he finds himself having followed his partner. I ended up reading pieces of this book (while on vacation) to whichever member of my family I could capture, and the two of us were generally reduced to tears. Believe it or not, the drug use pieces were a scream - incredibly pathetic but hysterical. The best was toward the end when Sedaris describes being in a French subway (obviously looking very French) and listening to a loud American man warn his wife that she should watch her pocketbook because this shifty-looking French guy (Sedaris!) behind her was likely to snatch her purse. All in all, like much of what I've read of Sedaris, any author who can reduce me to tears is a god-send. The best physical therapy in the world is to weep with laughter.
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