I’ve always enjoyed David Sedaris1, and realized only recently that I hadn’t read one of his bigger collections of work, Me Talk Pretty One Day.
The book is textbook Sedaris: mostly memoir, extraordinarily self-deprecating, and laugh-out-loud funny until the end of the bit, where he (usually) twists it unexpectedly into something sentimental. A lot of the memoirs, including that the title memoir, are centered around Sedaris’ move to Paris with his boyfriend Hugh, and his struggles to learn French. There’s almost no actual French in the book, but rather a stilted English translation of Sedaris’ awful French—hence, “Me talk pretty one day.”
One gets the impression, when reading Sedaris, that they are privy to the gooey insides of a semi-dysfunctional family; the author is notorious for tellings stories about his family, even against their wishes, because it makes such good reading. His dad’s obsession with having musical kids, his sister’s practiced insouciance, &c. Mostly, though, I love Sedaris’ dry humor and staid delivery. He’s a writer who, by design it seems, is unintentionally funny.
In addition to his self-deprecation, Sedaris also seems to have no shame: he’s the sort of writer who will share with the world the kind of embarrassing moments, silly desires, and brain farts that most of us would never cop to. The sort of writer who makes you think “How did he know?” Or outrageous anecdotes that asymptotically approach our own lives, so close you could reach out conceptually and touch them.
If you’re a Sedaris fan, or a fan of the style (Rakoff, and to a less extent Klosterman, & al.), you really have no excuse not to read this book (or any other book of Sedaris).