I love David Sedaris. Love. Enough emphasis cannot be placed on that word. Sedaris’s books are composed of various essays on any range of topics. In Let’s Explore Diabetes With Owls, he writes about his quest for the perfect Valentine’s day gift, which, in this case, happens to be a stuffed (in the taxidermy sense) owl. In another essay, he discusses how parents today reason with their children instead of simply beating them, and in yet another, he chronicles his periodontic woes and how he secretly enjoys this particular branch of dental torture.
The thing about David Sedaris is that it is hard to explain to someone why he is so entertaining. If I tried to retell his anecdotes here, it would seem determinately less funny, and then this glowing review of his book would be rendered utterly pointless. Suffice it to say that Sedaris successfully verbalizes what most of us are thinking, but a.) are afraid to admit to it, or b.) didn’t realize that is what we were thinking until Sedaris articulated the thought. For instance, one of the essays discusses an incident when young David and his friend kidnapped some baby sea turtles from the beach:
Looking back, you’d think someone would have said something – sea turtles, for
God’s sake! – but maybe they weren’t endangered yet. Animal cruelty hadn’t
been invented either. The thought that a non-human being had physical feelings
let alone the wherewithal to lose hope, was outlandish and alien, like thinking that
paper had relatives. Then, too, when it comes to eliciting sympathy, it’s the back
of the line for reptiles and amphibians, creatures with, face it, not much in the way
of a personality. Even giving them names didn’t help, as playing with Shelly was
no different from playing with Pokyhontus; “playing,” in this case, amounting to
placing them on my desk and watching them toddle over the edge. (63-4)
I think most children go through a phase characterized by the imprisonment of small animals, yet nothing about it seems bothersome to us until we enter adulthood. At which point, as illustrated so effectively by Sedaris, it seems gruesomely hilarious.
Sedaris brilliantly narrates his own audiobooks, and Let’s Explore Diabetes With Owls is no exception. The audio experience can be enhanced or annihilated, depending on who is reading the book. Sedaris is fantastic, so much so that I prefer the audio versions of his books for that added sarcasm that he always brings to a reading.
My only complaint is the story/essay things that appear at the end of the book. These are fictional accounts from different perspectives; although portions can be amusing, this segment is always the weakest part. Luckily, the book is dominated by the essays, so this part of the book is only a mild annoyance.
Sometimes, I feel like I am overly cynical. I think that maybe I have evil thoughts and that I don’t make an effort to see the best in people. And then David Sedaris releases a new book, and I remember that these are useful skills that can lead to an illustrious writing career. David Sedaris, as always, you are an inspiration.