Fiction: Essays

Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris

Now that I’ve read three (is that right?) in a row of his, I’m starting to see what Michael Ian Black was talking about (I’m pretty sure he’s sort of joking, but, either way, I can see why it’s funny [or true]). First I liked him, then I didn’t want to like him, and now, building on my desire to dislike him, I’m starting to wonder what it is that makes David Sedaris’ writing so special (more specifically, why he deserves an apartment in New York, one in Paris, and a house in Normandy). When I read his books, I keep thinking ‘I could write this!’ not unlike walking through MOMA or the Tate Modern and thinking ‘Well, I could paint a canvas red’ (or wherever it is – you know the one I’m talking about).

Of course, maybe that’s the true mark of the artist – you know how in the summer, when you watch Wimbledon and it’s Federer vs. Nadal and they just look so effortless that you just think ‘Oh, anybody can play tennis, heck, I could do that if I felt like getting off this couch.’ And then you debate getting up to get another Fla-Vor-Ice and try to convince your cat to do it for you instead.

But you get my point. Maybe the very fact that I’m starting to question Sedaris’ talent is the tip-off that he actually does deserve his romantic, jetsetting life.

In other Sedaris news, I think I may actually be his female counterpart (I’ve decided I’m not going to examine the fact that I want to dislike him – that could get pretty disturbing pretty quickly). Seriously. Not writing-wise, but, like, fundamentally, I’m starting to think we may be the same person. To wit, when lamenting his single status (shortly before meeting Hugh, his soon-to-be long-term partner):

Another part of the problem had to do with my long list of standards. Potential boyfriends could not smoke Merit cigarettes, own or wear a pair of cowboy bots, or eat anything labeled either lite or heart smart. Speech was important, and disqualifying phrases included ‘I can’t find my nipple ring’ and ‘This one here was my first tattoo.’ All street names had to be said in full, meaning no ‘Fifty-ninth and Lex,’ and definitely no ‘Mad Ave.’ They couldn’t’ drink more than I did, couldn’t write poetry in notebooks and read it out loud to an audience of strangers, and couldn’t use the words flick, freebie, cyberspace, progressive, or zeitgeist. They could not consider the human scalp an appropriate palette for self-expression, could not own a rainbow-striped flag, and could not say they had ‘discovered’ any shop or restaurant currently listed in the phone book. […] In terms of mutual interests, I figured we could spend the rest of our lives discussing how much we hated the aforementioned characteristics.

Now, it’s not the list of standards I identify with, but that last sentence – the thought that such petty things should be the basis for rejecting or pursuing a relationship. It’s probably human nature, but that’s what’s special about his writing – he makes me think ‘Yes, David, only I understand you. We are soulmates!’ when really everybody else reading it is thinking the same exact thing.

And again, Sedaris runs the gambit from laugh-outloud funny to literally crying (he was talking about having to put pets to sleep – what was I supposed to do?!). I have only Naked left (I haven’t decided about Barrel Fever as I don’t think I’ll like his stories as much as his memoir essays), but that’s okay because by the time I finish that one, there should be a new Temeraire book and then a new Artemis Fowl book (I’ve missed you, baby!).

My rating: A

ETA: Alas, my reading schedule has been thrown off by the new Georgia Nicholson book (how do these things keep sneaking up on me, I’m usually very on top of my book release dates?!).


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