It just isnt 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 its clear that he takes after her. Whether hes 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, Sedariss 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.
Sedariss career is closely linked with two things: audio (he was discovered by NPRs 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-laws 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
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.
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