- Hardcover: 288 pages
- Publisher: Little, Brown and Company; First Edition edition (April 23, 2013)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0316154695
- ISBN-13: 978-0316154697
- Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1 x 8.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 1,694 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #59,050 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Let's Explore Diabetes with Owls Hardcover – April 23, 2013
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An Amazon Best Book of the Month, April 2013: If you’ve read any of David Sedaris’s previous works, you know what you’re in for with his latest book Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls. Sedaris is an author who has no legitimate reason to change his approach to writing--he’s taken the snarky, sometimes crude, often hilarious, ultimately thought-provoking personal essay to the level of mastery. One could easily argue that he’s set the bar for observational comedy, and for that reason alone fans new and old will make each book he writes a publishing sensation. --Chris Schluep
Following his foray into animal fables, Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk (2010), Sedaris returns to his signature form, the eviscerating comic essay. He draws on a seemingly bottomless well of appalling childhood memories revolving around his mounting fears about being unlike other boys. There’s a stinging account of swimming competitions during which his irascible father vociferously championed his son’s rival, a courageously candid tale of his courtship of a shy African American girl, and an unnerving confession of his inept handling of captured baby sea turtles. Moving on to more worldly episodes, Sedaris recalls encounters with strangers on trains and offers hilarious perspectives on French health care and shopping at Costco. An acute observer and master of the quick, excoriating takedown, Sedaris claims new territory in this exceptionally gutsy and unnerving collection, creating dark and mischievous monologues in other voices, such as the brilliantly vicious “Just a Quick E-Mail” and an alarming rant by a Christian fascist. Sedaris casts penetrating light on a world of cruelty, inanity, and absurdity that is barely but surely redeemed by humor and love. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Sedaris-mania knows no bounds, and with a 20-city author tour and all-out media campaign, this will be a red-hot title. --Donna Seaman
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I can’t say that the themes have changed, because they have not, in any general way. The world that he explores these themes in, however, feels unrecognizable. His newer subjects (his wealthy lifestyle and politics) are less relevant, perhaps, to me. A writer can speak only so long on the subject of a summer home in Normandy, or luxury goods, before one risks losing me. As to David’s politics, they are self-admittedly uninformed and beg the question of why he would waste his enormous talent on them at all.
As to the Sedaris humor, while it is present, it was dull, and only once or twice approached his best work. Maybe he was consciously downplaying it, moving it to the edge of the stage, and moving other things forward: Poignancy, topical relevance, something. It didn’t work. At times, I felt like David was writing so that people would use the word “touching” or “moving” in their reviews, instead of “funny” or “sardonic”.
Now, I want to respect an artist who is trying to evolve. “Squirrel Seeks…” was a completely different side of David, and I loved it. This does not feel like evolution, however, it feels like going back to the old well again and finding it no longer draws clear water. There are a few real gems here, certainly. David remains a very talented writer. There are just not enough gems to carry the book. On the whole, I wish David had waited to collect more prime material before publishing.
The owl in the title is stuffed. The author's partner, Hugh collected owl knick-knacks (not voluntarily--people started giving them to him when they found out he liked owls) and David wanted to top off his friend's collection with a stuffed owl. Unfortunately, taxidermists are not allowed to stuff owls in this country, even if the bird died of old age. When David and Hugh moved to France, they were stymied by the same law. However, although you can't kill an owl in England, you can have it stuffed once it's dead. David's trip to the English taxidermy shop is one of the highlights of this book:
"'If you like the odd bits and pieces, I think I've got something else you might enjoy.' The taxidermist retreated to the area behind his desk and pulled a plastic bag off an overhead shelf...From the bag he removed what looked like a platter with an oblong glass dome over it. Inside was a man's forearm, complete with little hairs and a smudged tattoo..."
The severed arm had a story behind it as do all of the odd bits and pieces that this author collects and shares with his readers. Some of the essays in "Let's Explore Diabetes with Owls" are fantasies of what life might be like for a red-neck, right-wing voter. This is where the author ventures into Jonathan Swift's territory: heavy-handed satire, but witty. Very witty. These essays made me wonder what Sedaris thinks of the current Republican candidate for President.
I hope he writes an essay (or an entire book about the 2016 Presidential Race). He's one of the few authors who could do this subject justice.
Meanwhile, read this book and find out what David Sedaris thinks of the Chinese, Germans, the English, dentists, book tours, the lines at airports, and Pygmy skeletons.
The fact is, I do not laugh easily when I’m reading. Any author who can make me laugh aloud as often as Mr. Sedaris does with this book is going to get my recommendation. And I’m going to delve soon into another one of his collections.
Most recent customer reviews
Not his usual personal stories , but short story fictions. Not my cup of tea.