This is my first foray into the printed, autobiographical world of Mr. Sedaris and I don't care what anyone says in their reviews: I REALLY LIKED IT! and I read it two times. It's a lightning quick read.
As with most humour, people will either get this or they won't. This is evident by the reviews. However, even the reviewers that gave quite a low star rating, still had a few good things to say – so, not all doom and gloom. Also, let's not forget that your own mood determines how funny something actually is at that point in time.
It is worth mentioning that many of the essays in this book are not linked, they are not always about himself and he does jump from character to character a bit (which didn't bother me in the least). This gave me the feeling of someone telling you a true story on the fly, rather than constructing one. Personally, he ran me through the whole gamut of emotions by going from laugh out loud funny to dark and poignant, even heartbreaking, but always with the overall tone of self deprecation, which he seems to do well. Mr. Sedaris seems open and honest and exposes his unusual quirks and behaviours on the page with ease, which I find admirable. Yes, some sections were marginally better than others, but overall I really, really enjoyed the writing and the observations he proffered.
I honestly don't know how anyone could fail to find the colonoscopy story "The Happy Place" or "Rubbish", funny. 10 dollars well spent. I will be trying a few more of his works, and I won't expect them to be as good, but if they are... BONUS! Sergiu Pobereznic (author)
This guy is big in the US, really big. The Amazon reviews for this book alone total over 1000, all four or five star. He seems to almost have a cult following. I had never heard of him, so after doing a bit of googling, I have found out that he is a Grammy award nominated humorist, comedian, author and radio contributor. In the past twenty years he has published eight books, five of which have been New York Times Bestsellers. According to Wikipedia much of Sedaris's humor is autobiographical, self deprecating, and often concerns his family life, his middle class upbringing in the suburbs of Raleigh, North Carolina, his Greek heritage, jobs, education, drug use, obsessive beheviours, and his life in France, London and West Sussex with his partner Hugh. And so it is in this book.
And yes, he is a very funny writer, a wicked turn of phrase and blessed with the ability unique to successful comedians to make the mundane things of our every day life very, very funny. For example, now that he has reached a certain age, his father has been pestering him to have a colonoscopy. Which he finally does and documents for the ignorant reader's benefit in minute detail. The delight he takes in telling his father the results is worth reading the whole book for - it is the last 'essay' in the book. A visit to Australia prompts memories of childhood singing that Australian classic 'Kookaburra Sits in the Old Gum Tree'; the joys of travelling in a country where English is not the language of the majority; his visit to a London taxidermist to source a stuffed owl for a present.
The strange thing for me about this book however, is that not really any of it has remained with me since I finishing it. I can see why he has been so successful, and as I haven't read any of his earlier writings, I may not be the most qualified reviewer. But if anything his writings are a little self indulgent and I found myself vaguely annoyed by him. Smug is the word that comes to mind. Perhaps this is what happens to successful writers in middle age. He may well become the 'grumpy old man' the type of writer in the future.