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Naked Paperback – June 1, 1998
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As a memoir, Naked is an unbelievably good collection of autobiographical essays. As you make your way through Naked, you just find yourself in disbelief at Sedaris' dysfunctional family. Everyone out there claims to have some sort of dysfunctional family, but Sedaris' truly takes the cake. From the authors childhood filled with his nervous tics and OCD habits to his teachers visiting his home while being offered alcoholic beverages while watching his mother make mock impersonations of her son. It makes you really feel for the author. The best part of Naked by far is the Ya-Ya, Sedaris' grandmother. It makes me wish I had at least one grandmother just like her growing up. If you don't find yourself laughing out loud at least once, you don't have a sense of humor :). Then the authors tales as a long-time hitchhiker while doing a wide variety of manual labor jobs give readers like myself hope that haven't quite figured out who they are or what they want to do in life. On a personal level, these tales were really what I liked the most about Sedaris. The fact that he's come out of all of the hell and many years of uncertainty/wandering to become a successful author and playwright is truly inspiring. It just goes to show you anything is possible, even if it takes until much later in life to figure it out.
My gripe with Naked comes as a "side-splitting" and "hilariously entertaining" memoir. For me, the humor started to die around the time Sedaris goes away to camp for a month. From that point on, the novel's comedic aspect drops off significantly. Granted, the novel definitely takes on a darker tone up until the last few chapters, but it was my expectation that it'd be funny for more than just half the book. In that regard, the reviews and descriptions of the book disappointed me.
Overall, it's definitely a worthwhile read for anyone who wants to be genuinely captivated by another persons trials and tribulations as well as how they overcame them. Just don't expect to be a comedy from start to finish. I wouldn't quite give it 4 stars, but more along the lines of 3.5 stars. As it's been out for about 14 years now, Naked is certainly a bargain for the price. So if you end up not liking it as much as you thought, it won't have burned a large hole in your wallet. :)