Sedaris Reviews

Monday, August 1, 2011

Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk
by David Sedaris

This short story collection is the first bit of fiction I’ve ever read from Sedaris. Most of his books chronicle his personal experiences, growing up, living in NYC or in Paris and his interactions with his family. I’ve always found those hilarious. This book goes in a completely different direction and tells fables of animals set in human environments.

Sedaris imbues the animals with human characteristics. They are selfish, petty, suspicious etc. and put in situations that bring out the worst in them, Secret Santa gift exchanges, pet ownership, a pot-bellied pig who is self-conscious about his weight, etc. The satire manages to feel fresh and odd at the same time. The dark sense of humor that Sedaris is loved for is in full-force, but in a much stranger setting. It’s almost as if this concept was better in theory than when put into action.

One funny story, The Faithful Setter, chronicles a dog’s marriage and his moral debate of whether it’s cheating when his owner takes him to breed with other females. Again, weird, but it’s oddly amusing to hear a dog describe his wife’s nature and bad “breeding.”

I think my favorite story may have been, The Vigilant Rabbit, which is about a mall cop kind of rabbit, who guards the forest and takes his job way too seriously.

It includes the following…

“State your name and your business.”
“I’m unicorn,” said the unicorn. “And I come to bring joy to all the forest creatures.”
“Not with that horn you don’t.”
“I beg your pardon?”
“I said, lose the weapon.”

I can’t say I liked this book more than some of his other memoirs, but it was still entertaining. I definitely prefer his personal memoirs, but this one is worth checking out if you’re already a fan.

Simple Times
Crafts for Poor People
by Amy Sedaris

This tongue-in-cheek guide to crafting is not for everyone. It jokingly gives tips and instructions on how to make various things, but never takes itself seriously, not should it. I loved the Ten Commandments of Crafting, which included, “Thou shalt not fill envelopes with glitter and confetti and send them through the mail.”

There’s one section that discusses “crafting for the hard-of-hearing.” Amy Sedaris literally yells this entire section on the audiobook, which is funny for about.02 seconds, and then it’s just awful. The country music and “woodchuck” parts are incredibly annoying on audio as well.

The chapter on “the craft of making love” was unexpected and unnecessary. I get why they thought it was funny, but it wasn’t really. It just took the book in a completely different direction, which wasn’t funny so much as it was odd.

Though there are some chuckle worthy bits, the overall impression is not a good one. Skip this one and read her other book, “I Like You,” especially if you can get your hands on an audio version.

"More than 8 out of 10 households have at least 4 out of 5 family members engaging in 2 out of 3 crafts 78% of the time. A staggering 98% of this group are homosexual men."


Sandy Nawrot said...

I had heard that Squirrel wasn't as good as his other stuff, but I do have it loaded on my iPod. Actually, I kinda like the sound of it, being the animal lover that I am. I'm always assigning human personalities to my cats.

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

It's good on audio and it's still entertaining. I've just got high standards for Sedaris now because I love some of his other books. Still worth listening to.

Jillian said...

You know, I never really liked Sedaris. Would you recommend any for me though?

Anonymous said...

I really did not like this one at all, even in audio I didn't find it funny. So disappointing. For Jillian: his best collection of stories for me is the one on Christmas, called Holidays on Ice. I really laughed a lot on this one. Here is my review for this post:
Emma @ Words And Peace

Care said...

I've read Naked and thought it very enjoyable and yet, I'm hesitant to read anything else.

Jeanne said...

"Six to Eight Black Men" from Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim is my favorite.

B said...

I just started Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk in my car yesterday morning. I'm still on the first disk but so far I think it's pretty funny. I'm looking forward to the mall cop chapter!

Thanks again for the wonderful gift :)

Jenners said...

Sounds like it was a bit hit and miss for both of the Sedaris siblings. Oh well. It sounds like bit and pieces are good but not the whole thing. Still, I want to read David's book … it sounds so odd.

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Jillian - Yes, I'd second wordsandpeace's recommendation for Holidays on Ice, but I'd say start with Me Talk Pretty One Day, it's my favorite.

Emma - That was my first Sedaris, loved it.

Care - That's not my favorite of his, but if you're ever in the mood for one again, maybe Me Talk Pretty One Day.

Jeanne - Makes me laugh so hard every time.

Brenna - I hope it works for you. Not his best, but still funny.

Jenners - Still worth it if you like his stuff.