Me Talk Pretty One Day

January 28, 2010

me-talk-pretty-one-day Summary: After enjoying essayist David Sedaris’ most recent collection of humorous anecdotes, When You Are Engulfed in Flames, I decided to give some of his earlier works a look, mostly because I’d heard that the early stuff was even better. So I recently checked out the audio version of Me Talk Pretty One Day from my library.

This time the format was already familiar to me. The book consists of a number of essays (27 in all) recounting various incidents from Sedaris’ childhood and adult years. He starts off with “Go Carolina”, which tells of a speech therapist he had to visit while in the fifth grade, and drew a few laughs from me when he described the great lengths he went to to avoid words beginning with an “s” sound. I could just imagine this precocious 11-year-old walking around with a thesaurus and saying things like “a river or two” instead of “rivers”, or “Correct” and “affirmative” instead of “yes”. Ha!

Other essays I enjoyed were “Picka Pocketoni” (in which rude American tourists in Paris talk about Sedaris right in front of his face, assuming he is French and can’t understand them); and I’ll Eat What He’s Wearing (about his father’s strange habit of saving food and eating it no matter how rotten it is).

Liked:

  • I still think Sedaris’ writing style is what makes these essays interesting (for the most part). Even when the topic isn’t all that great, I was still able to pay attention because the writing was so good.
  • The audio version was less than seven hours long, making this a fairly quick two-day listen. That’s not a bad amount of time to invest in a book, no matter how it turns out.

Disliked:

  • Having read When You Are Engulfed in Flames, it seemed to me that I’d already covered much of the same ground with Sedaris. This was especially true when he talked about his struggles in French class, which totally reminded me of similar struggles in Japanese class in Flames. Some of the stuff about his father and the dogs sounded familiar, as did “21 Down”, the essay about the NY Times crossword puzzle, which reminded me of “Solutions to Saturday’s Puzzle”. Plus there was more stuff about his smoking habit, which just made me want to scream at him to go out and buy some e-cigarettes already! Meh.
  • Although the essay “Picka Pocketini” was funny, I really couldn’t believe that it happened the way Sedaris described it. So these rude people were saying that he smelled bad and was probably a pickpocket, saying this basically right to his face — and he didn’t do or say anything back? Not a single thing to show that he understood exactly what was going on? Sorry, I don’t buy it.
  • A few of the essays were downright boring, but at least they were short. I’d read many reviews talking about the numerous laugh-out-loud moments in this book, but I found those to be few and far between. I laughed far more during Flames than I did for this book.

My Rating:

Overall, I have to say that I was rather disappointed with Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris. I wasn’t exactly expecting a “laff riot”, but I did hope to be amused more often than not. Also, I was hoping that Sedaris would cover some different ground this time around. Oh, well. I give this book 3 stars out of 5, and think I’ll take a break from this author for a while.

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