America’s finest humorist turns a wry eye on his adopted home, says Viv Groskop.
After the success of Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim and Me Talk Pretty One Day comes another book of biting, intimate anecdotes from America’s finest humorist. At first glance it’s not easy to pinpoint what this collection is about – but when the writing’s this good and the writer’s this funny, it hardly matters. Sedaris could write about flossing his teeth and you’d be embarrassed by how hard you were laughing. In fact, one of the best sections of this book is all about flossing.
This purports to be an “educational series” but really it’s an excuse for Sedaris to mouth off about his childhood, the annoying people he comes across in airport lounges and the tendency of people who live in rural England – he now lives in Suffolk – to trash their hedgerows with Lucozade bottles and crisp packets.
If you could identify a theme it’s the travails of a cautiously enthusiastic but alienated outsider. Wherever Sedaris goes, low-level doom greets him – whether it’s inside his own childhood bedroom, where there is a pet turtle he has accidentally killed, on a trip with his partner to a depressing cottage that will soon become their home, or in Hawaii where his passport is stolen. Yet he always greets whatever happens with a sideways smile. (Just as he greets the German language: “It’s like English, but sideways.”)
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