by David Sedaris

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Review

Although this latest collection of comic essays from humorist David Sedaris had a few good moments, there weren’t enough to overcome its shortcomings.  The more successful included Memory Laps, a poignant account of his experience at age 10 of being on the swim team, and his father’s deliberate cruelty in admiring another boy’s swimming skills.  In A Friend in the Ghetto, a young Sedaris describes his younger self trying to shock his family by choosing a chubby and sweet African- American girl to be his girlfriend, only to find that no one is paying much attention:  “Love seemed all the sweeter when it was misunderstood, condemned by the outside world.  The thing about Delicia was that we hardly knew each other.  Her interest in me was pure conjecture, not based on anything she’d said or done but on my cruel assumption that no one else would be interested in her.”   A few of the travel pieces were mildly interesting, but some seemed a little forced or contrived.  One is a lengthy whine about the inconvenience of losing his passport while on Oahu, and not being able to leave his home in England for 6 months, a problem clearly encountered by only by the elite and wealthy.  That was the first sign of what’s really wrong with the book.  In earlier years, Sedaris was the underdog, a struggling writer chronicling his observations of a harsh world in an offbeat and humorous way.  Now that society is a lot less uptight politically and culturally than when he started, his voice is now the more dominant one.  He’s become a bestselling author attacking the marginalized groups and obvious targets (like born-again homophobes) and it comes across more smug than funny.  The weakest part of the collection comes at the end - fictional essays ranging from a shrill political rant to a downright unpleasant poem about dogs.

Comments

Does Big Boy make an appearance?

Unfortunately, no, Davis.

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