Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk, by David Sedaris

I got to this book in a somewhat roundabout way… my Mary recommended it to me as a Read-a-thon possibility, but then my library didn’t have it and I had a whole host of other books to read anyway and I figured I’d get to this one eventually. Then I went up to Pittsburgh for a weekend to visit Scott’s family and one of the first things I hear from Sister-in-law the Elder is, “Do you like David Sedaris? Have you read his new book? No? I will lend it to you!” Amazing how these things work.

I busted it out on the plane ride back to Jacksonville, which was both awesome and terrible because dude, the pictures in this book are not all safe for work. I was moderately concerned that my seat neighbor would turn out to be some sort of PETA member who would throw red paint on me after seeing a picture of a dying lab rat or a lamb with its eyes plucked out.

Ugh, right? The stories in this book are, I think, meant to be like human mythologies as told by animals. Some of the stories are a little banal, like the title story which tells of a budding relationship between a squirrel and a chipmunk that goes poorly when jazz is mentioned. Some are tales of really stupid animals, like “The Mouse and the Snake,” in which a mouse thinks that a snake will make a very good companion for her, or “The Toad, the Turtle, and the Duck,” in which being incredibly mean to someone is fun until racism gets involved. And some, including “The Sick Rat and the Healthy Rat” and “The Crow and the Lamb” are kind of disgusting.

It’s a short collection, just about 150 pages of large-type stories and cool illustrations, and while I’m not over the moon about all of the stories I think that they work well taken together, and of course you don’t spend too much time on the ones that flop. And it’s probably perfect for that plane ride where you really don’t want to talk to your neighbors.

Recommendation: Good for the not-squeamish and those who have some schadenfreude. Also good for those who like Sedaris.

Rating: 8/10

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Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim, by David Sedaris (30 April — 7 May)

I had this collection of Sedaris essays as my car audiobook for those long drives to and from my music ensembles, and I thought it worked pretty well. Stopping in the middle of a story left me confused, but when I could listen to a whole story at once I was highly entertained.

Most of the stories in this collection are ruminations on Sedaris’s life, both now and as a kid growing up in North Carolina. I felt a little awkward hearing Sedaris talk about playing strip poker and being beaten up by bullies and his brother training the dog to eat poo, but I thoroughly enjoyed his more humorous stories. In particular, I listened to his essay on Christmas in the Netherlands by myself and then immediately replayed it for Scott to hear. It was good.

That story and another were taped as Sedaris read them in front of an audience, but most of them were just Sedaris talking into a microphone, and you could really hear the difference. The man has a stage presence, but he seems to forget to use it without an audience! I wonder if the stories read differently without Sedaris talking.

Rating: 7/10
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