Sedaris takes on many voices in book of essays

Jan Jones
Book Reviewer

Even if it’s a bit late, I want to send out a huge thank you to all the men and women who worked tirelessly to restore our electric power. We lost power on that Friday night of the storm and got it back the next Tuesday about 11 a.m. Our only big loss was half of a lovely old maple near the pond. Tom was and is working in Superior so I don’t know when we’ll get it cut up and moved. I must say that we have amazing neighbors. Thanks to them we were blessed to have the use of a generator to keep our refrigerator and freezers going. We had plenty of pond water for toilet flushing so it wasn’t as bad as it could have been. I managed to keep busy most of the time with outdoor work plus hand sewing during the day then reading my Kindle in the evening until an early bedtime.

As you know, I really like reading whatever David Sedaris writes. So when I stumbled upon his 2013 book of essays and stuff, “Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls,” I grabbed it.

For those who aren’t familiar, David Sedaris was born in New York and moved to North Carolina at about age 7. Somehow he always knew that he was a bit different from his classmates. Yet he managed to establish some friendships, which naturally led to some real misadventures — and he shares some of them in this book.

His family consisted of his parents plus two sisters and two brothers. Although he has always used their interactions as fodder for his work, it is obvious that they shared a deep love. David has never been afraid of work and has done many things to keep the bills paid, but it was his recounting of his experience as a department store elf that got him noticed by a wider audience.

In this book, David has crafted 26 unique essays, each with its own special twist. He has been in a long-term relationship with his partner, Hugh. Over the years they have established homes in the U.S., France and England. David freely admits to being a little obsessive-compulsive, and that plays into many of his essays, especially the ones about finding and caring for their homes.

He recounts his quest to rid the area around their home of litter. Sadly, no one else seems to care and they litter freely causing him endless clean up trips. In three of the essays he uses his experiences with France’s socialized medicine. Yes, he does make a visit to a dentist have a funny twist. His almost constant travels for book readings and signings offer several great essays.

In other essays, he takes on voices of teens and creates wonderful rants. In one, he’s a know-it-all teen just returned from a one week visit to England. In that time, she insists she picked up a perfect English accent and now has all the answers.

In another, he’s an irate emailer berating her paralyzed sister for a wedding gift. She just happens to mention that she’s now married to her sister’s ex-husband, and the sister is paralyzed because of an accident in which she was driving.

No matter which voice David speaks in, he has an amazing ability to bring out the depth, humanity, the truth of what makes us so uniquely human.

We humans are complicated creatures. How we think, what we say, and the things we do, varies from day to day — sometimes hour to hour. Personally, I like to embrace those variations. Your public library has books about all kinds of ways we are unique, special, and just who we should be. Make plans to visit soon so you can check it all out.


BOOK: “Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls”

AUTHOR: David Sedaris

PUBLISHER: Back Bay Books

PUBLISHED: June 3, 2014

PAGES: 288