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.”