Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim
I am a person who feels guilty for crimes I have not committed, or have not committed in years. The police search the train station for a serial rapist and I cover my face with a newspaper, wondering if maybe I did it in my sleep…. I seem to have developed a remarkable perspiration problem. My conscience is cross-wired with my sweat glands, but there’s a short in the system and I break out over things I didn’t do, which only makes me look more suspect.
I’m about two years behind the bandwagon on this book. Actually, it might be more like three or four years, but regardless, at some point, David Sedaris was the hot new thing in the book world.
I guess I can see why. I enjoyed all of his stories, and while some of them were a little too neatly tied up and others sort of dropped off in the middle of nowhere, there’s no doubt this man can write.
There’s a hysterical anecdote in this collection about a tourist in Normandy stopping for directions and catching Mr. Sedaris drowning an injured mouse in a bucket. This in itself is not terribly funny, especially since the story is in the same vein as the “I-did-nothing-why-do-I-feel-guilty” pedophilia story. However, I cracked up at the line, “Oh…I see you have a little swimming mouse.” I don’t know why, but it probably has something to do with the image of an accented man in track pants and black loafers leaning over a bucket containing a swimming mouse and trying to make conversation.
All of these stories — essays? — are autobiographical, so though there is a lot of laughing at himself and his family, Mr. Sedaris’s book also has a good dose of bitterness. There’s the typical teen agnst in some of the earlier stories, as well as kind of a literary tirade against people who use the words “homosexual” and “pedophile” interchangeably in one of the later ones. Still, it’s hard not to like a writer who describes the voice of reason as sounding like Bea Arthur.
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