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Let's Explore Diabetes with Owls Paperback – June 3, 2014
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PRAISE FOR LET'S EXPLORE DIABETES WITH OWLS:
"Sedaris is a remarkably skilled storyteller and savvy essayist. He weaves together vivid images and sensations into a coherent whole that packs a serious emotional punch....Yes, David Sedaris is really that good. And, based on this latest collection, he's getting only better."
---Heather Havrilesky, Los Angeles Times
"Sedaris makes coming-of-age seem ever new and ever remarkable, not because his life was so very different from any of our own, but because he brings fresh eyes to common experiences.... It's only natural to laugh at all the comic abundance in Let's Explore, but there's no crime in sticking around for the humanity."
-David Carr, New York Times Book Review
"Artfully milked embarrassing personal incidents for literary laughs...There are plenty of well-cut gems, including one about an ill-fated adoption of some sea turtles that's both hilarious and touching."
---Thom Geier, Entertainment Weekly
"If you are a David Sedaris fan, any new book from the humorist is cause for celebration. His newest offering, Let's Explore Diabetes with Owls, is no exception. It's quintessential Sedaris....There's always a laugh-out-loud moment just around the corner."
---Craig Wilson, USA Today
"The funniest writer in America....Sedaris is thoughtful and sweet in addition to being slyly hilarious." ---Leigh Haber, Oprah
"This book is hysterical!"
"David Sedaris has become a signifier of taste and intelligence....Let's Explore Diabetes with Owls was the kind of book that I finished and just immediately wanted to start reading again."
---Anna Peele, Esquire
"Fresh....funny, whimsical, unexpected, and never obvious....Who would anticipate that an encounter with an Australian bird could be so damn touching?"
---Sherryl Connelly, New York Daily News
"Ridiculously funny....A find for the reader who appreciates a sense of humor....Sedaris, like the great humorists before him, hits a nerve with his wit, which brings the reader into intimate contact with the human condition."
---John Henry, Fort Worth Star-Telegram
"An acute observer and master of the quick, excoriating takedown, Sedaris claims new territory in this exceptionally gutsy and unnerving collection."
---Donna Seamn, Booklist
About the Author
David Sedaris is the author of the books Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk, When You Are Engulfed in Flames, Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim, Me Talk Pretty One Day, Holidays on Ice, Naked, and Barrel Fever. He is a regular contributor to The New Yorker and Public Radio International's This American Life. He lives in England.
Top customer reviews
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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.
I thought this book was a bit hit and miss...like a restaurant where your appetizer and dessert are delicious, but the entree is just so-so. I thought his pieces with a humorous take on the minutiae of daily life were enjoyable (if not laugh out loud hilarious like people claimed) and relatable. I particularly liked his essays on his life growing up in Raleigh ("Attaboy", about wimpy parenting styles today compared to when he grew up, and "Memory Laps", about dueling country clubs in Raleigh and the summer league swim team), the trash situation in the English countryside ("Rubbish"), and the disgusting hygiene habits in China.
However, I think he and his editor made a huge error with this book. He includes six fictional short stories that students could use in some sort of speech/debate competition called "Forensics". I guess he was doing this as a charitable donation of some kind, but they do not fit in with the rest of the book at all and are frankly awful. Although he does warn the reader in the Author's Note at the beginning of the book, the individual stories are not called out specifically once you get to those chapters and they're randomly scattered throughout the book. Each time I started one, I shook my head in confusion before remembering why the story made no sense and it seemed the narrator was a woman or some other character that clearly wasn't Sedaris.
The other thing that bothered me was the book is heavily loaded with politics. I just didn't expect that in a book that was billed to be a collection of humorous essays about daily life and I have no idea if his other books contain as much politics as this one did. Needless to say, it rubbed me the wrong way.
I didn't hate this book, but I definitely didn't think it lived up to all I'd been hearing about David Sedaris. Maybe I just picked the wrong book of his to try and I should give Me Talk Pretty One Day a shot at some point.
For more reviews, check out my blog, Sarah's Book Shelves.
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