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Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk: A Modest Bestiary Hardcover – September 28, 2010


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 159 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company; 1st edition (September 28, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316038393
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316038393
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 1 x 7.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 2.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (436 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #61,761 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Like a modern-day Aesop or La Fontaine, Sedaris has his darkly comic and deeply cynical (if somewhat rambling) morality stories enacted by animals. Although Sedaris typically narrates his works solo, here he is joined by Dylan Baker, Siân Phillips, and (the incomparable) Elaine Stritch. The dry tones of both women are particularly well suited to the knowing commentary offered by various domesticated, barnyard, and wild animals on casual racism, self-congratulatory sanctimony, poor excuses for adultery, and fad spiritualism, among other common societal ills. The audiobook features a bonus fable not available in the text version of the book; in addition, the third CD includes PDFs of the book's illustrations by Ian Falconer (writer/illustrator of the Olivia picture book series). A Little, Brown hardcover. (Sept.)
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

The ancient Greeks had Aesop, seventeenth-century French people read the fables of La Fontaine, and now we, jaded inhabitants of the modern era, possess the distinct privilege to enjoy the beloved Sedaris’ first collection of short animal tales. The appeal of this aesthetically pleasing little volume is inherent, as the American ambassador of the comedy memoir, human division, turns now to creatures of the hoofed and winged variety to make us laugh and, perhaps, learn a lesson. Illustrations by Falconer (of the Olivia children’s books) are a perfect pairing for Sedaris’ stories (both writer and illustrator have been published extensively in the New Yorker). In Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk, foibled fabular heroines are given the opportunity to, finally, display all those humanlike thoughts and behaviors they’ve been banned from for ages. There’s the motherless bear who alienates herself with her incessant, self-centered solicitations of pity, and the potbellied pig who, no matter the diet, just can’t lose his breed-inherited descriptor. It’s impossible to imagine the brainstorm that conjured up these absurd, animated tales, but readers will certainly be grateful that they rained from Sedaris’ pen. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Sedaris’ name creates its own buzz and will continue to do so even with this quirky little book. --Annie Bostrom

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

I didn't laugh at all when I read it.
DTM
I appreciate dark humor, but this just wasn't funny, in my opinion.
Stepford Wife
David Sedaris usually does it for me, but not with this book.
Jeffrey Rich

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

290 of 320 people found the following review helpful By Wulfstan TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on September 28, 2010
Format: Hardcover
What we have here is a unique and absurd collection of what appear (on the surface) to be anthropomorphic animal characters- squirrels, storks, cats, toads, turtles, and of course a duck. Each story starts out benign and normal enough, more or less like an Aesop's Fable, but then gets more preposterous as far as animals go and then more and more relevant to life as we live it today.

If you have ever waited in a line at the DMV or other government office, you will see yourself as perhaps one of this trio- the Toad, the Turtle, or the Duck. Those who are a "Friend of Bill" might see something familiar in a story about a cat with some issues.

In other words, each story holds up a mirror to our everyday life- but this being David Sedaris it's more a Wonderland or Funhouse mirror. Perhaps the closest I could come would be Aesop's fables written by a very modern Lewis Carrol.

I found one great quote I may have to use myself "It's not that they are stupid. It's that they are actively against knowledge". How true, and how sad.

Sedaris says to not expect a Moral for each Fable, but if you read them carefully, you should find some insight. "His morals are not spoon-fed cautionary tales of cause-and-effect but rather seemingly matter-of-fact observations that pack a subtle after shock of insightfully insinuated scrutiny."

Funny? Yes, but not laugh out loud funny, more wry and sometimes black humor (warning!). I found myself grinning quite a bit.

The artwork is delightful, being by the well known artist and author Ian Falconer of Olivia the Pig, etc.
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427 of 505 people found the following review helpful By Eric Scheidler on October 27, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Misanthropic seems like a strange word to describe a book in which nearly all the characters are animals, but that's what this book is. Almost entirely missing is the tenderness, the hopefulness about the possibility of meaningful relationships that characterizes the rest of David Sedaris' work. The one or two stories -- "Hello Kitty" may really be the only one -- that offer something in this vein aren't enough to redeem the book.

Like so many other negative reviewers, I'm a long-time fan of Sedaris, from his very first appearances on This American Life through all of his published works. I've been to readings and have signed copies of "Barrel Fever" and "Naked".

What's more, I was really looking forward to THIS book. I'd heard one or two of these "fables" on This American Life and hoped Sedaris would put out a volume of them. In fact, I was disappointed that his last book, "When You Are Engulfed in Flames", was not that. (Frankly, I thought "Engulfed" was weak in comparison to his previous three books.)

These stories are brutal, vulgar, even hateful. What's most disappointing is that there is nothing really being said about the hypocrisy, self-centeredness, arrogance, woundedness, ignorance and other negative human traits being lived out by the hapless animals in these tales. The only commentary seems to be that people are awful, and life is misery.

This is so different from Sedaris' previous work. Yes, there's always been a sharp critique of hypocrisy in his stories, but there has also been a sense of hope, and laugh-out-loud humor that we can SHARE in. Only a monster (or someone under an "emperor's new clothes" delusion about Sedaris) could laugh at these stories.
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73 of 83 people found the following review helpful By sedaris fan who loves animals on October 13, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Let me start by saying that David Sedaris is one of the most clever and insightful writers I've ever come across. His stories have caused me to laugh out loud on numerous occasions, and I have recommended them to everyone I know.

This book, however, is a very different case.

A collection of sixteen short stories, each accompanied by one or more of Ian Falconer's illustrations, Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk is nothing like Sedaris' earlier works. Of the stories, I found the majority to be disgustingly violent. Only one was somewhat interesting, and a couple were dull. None of them amused me, and aside from a few lines here and there, none were clever or witty. Many of them were predictable, and aside from their grotesque violence, few were memorable.

I was looking forward to a new Sedaris offering, but this book is going straight to a used book dealer. It's the only Sedaris writing that I don't want on my bookshelf.
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114 of 135 people found the following review helpful By Gen of North Coast Gardening TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on September 30, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I hate Aesop. He was mean-spirited and horrible, and assumed the worst of the human (and animal) spirit, and was needlessly gross and brutal.

David Sedaris is a hilariously funny version, with keen-eyed and often brutal insights into human nature, but also with an occasional sweetness that surprised and touched me.

I loved reading this book, but felt I had to be on guard, because you can't trust your heart to these stories. Sedaris doesn't care if he kills and maims along the way to his lesson. Unhappy lives and unhappy endings happened to a lot of these characters, even ones who didn't necessarily deserve it.

The story about the sheep broke my freaking heart. Seriously. I cried. The illustrations by Ian Falconer of Olivia fame made the story even more heartbreaking. At the beginning of the story I kept going back to giggle at the insanely cheerful little lamb sitting with his mother. I loved the lamb. And then at the end, he got his eyes plucked out because his mother was kind of vacant and silly. Where was the justice in that story?

A few huge, dark downers set the tone of the book for me, and it was a bit hard to read while making sure I didn't actually end up caring about anyone just in case they got slaughtered. But - it was hilarious, too! The little quips about each of the animals were fantastic. Some were based on little-known animal facts and some were based on human nature, but Sedaris managed to slip a really good bit into pretty much every page. The pages are small, so that's saying something.

I'm too much of a delicate flower for this kind of book, but I still enjoyed it a lot.
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