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
. 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.
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