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Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk: A Modest Bestiary Paperback – October 4, 2011
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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.)
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
If you have ever waited in a line at the DMV or other government office, you will see yourself as perhaps one of this trio- the Toad, the Turtle, or the Duck. Those who are a "Friend of Bill" might see something familiar in a story about a cat with some issues.
In other words, each story holds up a mirror to our everyday life- but this being David Sedaris it's more a Wonderland or Funhouse mirror. Perhaps the closest I could come would be Aesop's fables written by a very modern Lewis Carrol.
I found one great quote I may have to use myself "It's not that they are stupid. It's that they are actively against knowledge". How true, and how sad.
Sedaris says to not expect a Moral for each Fable, but if you read them carefully, you should find some insight. "His morals are not spoon-fed cautionary tales of cause-and-effect but rather seemingly matter-of-fact observations that pack a subtle after shock of insightfully insinuated scrutiny."
Funny? Yes, but not laugh out loud funny, more wry and sometimes black humor (warning!). I found myself grinning quite a bit.
The artwork is delightful, being by the well known artist and author Ian Falconer of Olivia the Pig, etc.
The book starts out on a pleasant and clever enough note. Sedaris is writing about human foibles, made all the more biting and funny by the fact that they are being played out by animals. The first four stories are in this vein, are sharp pieces of satire, and enjoyable to read. I personally loved "The Migrating Warblers" and "The Toad, the Turtle, and the Duck". Laugh out loud funny, and with an actual point. Clever horation satire.
And then we get to story number five, "The Motherless Bear", and the text makes a sharp turn and never comes back. From this point on, almost without exception, the book is vulgar, cruel, and mean spirited. And frankly, I don't get it. What point is Sedaris trying to prove? What does he expect the reader (or the text for that matter) to gain by the brutality and negativity? Characters with annoying or petty characteristics meet with brutal, and undeserved, fates and to what end? If you took the stories and made the victim a person instead of a mouse, etc. people would be disgusted.
There are funny moments, or a very clever line here or there, but it does not make up for the overall tone of the text.
I like Sedaris, at times I enjoyed this book, but I hope this is not the new vein of his writing. There is no joy in it, no real wit, and that is a shame.
Not only not a children's book, I find it without much merit for adults, either. More like a study in self indulgence by a self absorbed and jaundiced man who can string words together well.