Let's Explore Diabetes with Owls

Tuesday, April 21, 2015



Let's Explore Diabetes with Owls
by David Sedaris
★★★★

This was one of my favorite Sedaris books that I've read in a long time. Some of his recent collections have been hit or miss with me, but this one had me cracking up over and over again. Whether he's talking about travel in Asia, colonoscopies, picking up litter in France, losing his passport, or checking out the local taxidermist, I was literally laughing out loud and that doesn't happen often. There are a few pieces at the very end of the book which should have just been cut. They don’t add anything and they detract from the overall strength of the collection. Those essays aside, it’s one of his best in years.

I will say his tone with regards to his father felt much more severe in this book that it has in past ones. I found myself wondering if some of that came from the natural reflections on his childhood the farther his is away from it. He’s always used his crazy family and odd childhood as fodder for his books, but this tone felt harsher. At the same time, some of his other stories, like a chance meeting on a train, felt sweetly nostalgic.

As always with Sedaris’ work, I love listening to it because it's always read by the author. I can hardly read hardcopies of his stories without hearing his strange nasally voice accompanying them. Somehow it just makes everything funnier. He pauses at the most perfect moments in every single story to get the biggest laughs.

BOTTOM LINE: His last few books had made me wonder if I’d just grown out of his sense of humor. This one made it clear that I haven’t. Start with an earlier collection if you’ve never tried him, but make sure you read this one if you’re already a fan.

“I've become like one of those people I hate, the sort who go to the museum and, instead of looking at the magnificent Brueghel, take a picture of it, reducing it from art to proof. It's not "Look what Brueghel did, painted this masterpiece" but "Look what I did, went to Rotterdam and stood in front of a Brueghel painting!”

“For an American, though, Australia seems pretty familiar: same wide streets, same office towers. It’s Canada in a thong, or that’s the initial impression.”


9 comments:

(Diane) Bibliophile By the Sea said...

I listened to this one and felt much like you. His earlier books were funnier.

Alisa Wilhelm said...

All of the books I've listened to by him kinda run together, plus I hear some of his stories on This American Life too. I particularly love any story about being a stupid foreigner. That's my life right now!

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Diane - I loved a few pieces in this one, but not the whole thing.

Alisa - I love that you can read each of his stories as a stand alone if you just need a good laugh.

Ellie said...

I've had this on my kindle for the longest time and definitely need to get to it. I think I'll take your advice though and try one of his earlier books first.

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Ellie - I never like his books as much in print, but they are still funny.

Amy said...

I love his audio books! I don't think I've ever read a print copy.

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Amy - I read one of his books that way and it just wasn't the same!

Jeanne said...

I think he's a better writer as he gets older; he's incorporating some of the stories about his family (especially the parents and Tiffany) into how he looks at the world, rather than how they reacted to things. The ending of Laugh, Kookaburra is one of the most masterful endings to an essay I think I've ever read. Oh well, except fot the ending to Six to Eight Black Men!

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Jeanne - Oh my gosh, Six to Eight Black Men kills me every time! I agree about his changing style. His stories are less about his immediate reactions or just sharing a funny anecdote.