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Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk: A Modest Bestiary Hardcover – September 28, 2010
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From Publishers Weekly
Like a modern-day Aesop or La Fontaine, Sedaris has his darkly comic and deeply cynical (if somewhat rambling) morality stories enacted by animals. Although Sedaris typically narrates his works solo, here he is joined by Dylan Baker, Siân Phillips, and (the incomparable) Elaine Stritch. The dry tones of both women are particularly well suited to the knowing commentary offered by various domesticated, barnyard, and wild animals on casual racism, self-congratulatory sanctimony, poor excuses for adultery, and fad spiritualism, among other common societal ills. The audiobook features a bonus fable not available in the text version of the book; in addition, the third CD includes PDFs of the book's illustrations by Ian Falconer (writer/illustrator of the Olivia picture book series). A Little, Brown hardcover. (Sept.)
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The ancient Greeks had Aesop, seventeenth-century French people read the fables of La Fontaine, and now we, jaded inhabitants of the modern era, possess the distinct privilege to enjoy the beloved Sedaris’ first collection of short animal tales. The appeal of this aesthetically pleasing little volume is inherent, as the American ambassador of the comedy memoir, human division, turns now to creatures of the hoofed and winged variety to make us laugh and, perhaps, learn a lesson. Illustrations by Falconer (of the Olivia children’s books) are a perfect pairing for Sedaris’ stories (both writer and illustrator have been published extensively in the New Yorker). In Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk, foibled fabular heroines are given the opportunity to, finally, display all those humanlike thoughts and behaviors they’ve been banned from for ages. There’s the motherless bear who alienates herself with her incessant, self-centered solicitations of pity, and the potbellied pig who, no matter the diet, just can’t lose his breed-inherited descriptor. It’s impossible to imagine the brainstorm that conjured up these absurd, animated tales, but readers will certainly be grateful that they rained from Sedaris’ pen. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Sedaris’ name creates its own buzz and will continue to do so even with this quirky little book. --Annie Bostrom
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At first glance you may think this is a book about rodents seeking dating partners. You would be wrong. Author David Sedaris has written a very clever collection of short stories that give personification to animals. Yes, he tells stories, but manages to sneak in lessons in values and mores. While we may think of Aesop's Fables as kiddie lit., it was originally written for adults. Sedaris has done similarly, only his tales are set in our contemporary times.
In Sedaris' book, the characters are animals. Settings are those most of us are familiar with and the problems are the ones we experience in our 21st century. Taken at face value, these are brief and amusing stories. However, thinking about them, the reader can see people they know in the characters these animals portray. This is a thought provoking, engaging, and easy-to-read book.
With all that being said, don't erase the idea of getting this book from your mind. It has its place in the broad scheme of things, and as a connoisseur of Sedaris' "pieces", I suggest that you pick it up at the end of your collection. You may be able to appreciate it more that way.
This review is for the Kindle version. I would have purchased this book when it was first released; however, I have moved almost completely to reading on the Kindle, and I'm always concerned about purchasing books on Kindle that have many pictures. These books usually look so flat and muddled on the Kindle. With the release of the new Kindle Fire, though, I decided to take the chance. Indeed, the pictures when viewed on the Fire are lovely and can be enlarged -- quite a difference from how they look on my regular Kindle. So I'm recommending the book for the Kindle Fire version only. If you have the regular Kindle, then I suggest purchasing the hard cover edition instead.