Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris

In brief: David Sedaris discusses family, working as a removalist, learning French, the expiry date of food and Americans abroad in this hilarious collection of essays.

The good: It’s snortingly funny.

The not-so-good: It finished!

Why I chose it: David Sedaris is a funny, funny man and signed this copy for me.

Year: 2000

Pages: 272

Publisher: Abacus (Hachette)

My rating: 10 out of 10

A couple of years ago, I won tickets to see David Sedaris which set me on the course of devouring his work. Winning those tickets was one of the best things I’ve ever done, because it introduced me to the awesome wittiness that is David Sedaris. I don’t laugh out loud very often with a book, but Me Talk Pretty One Day had me snorting with laughter. It’s self-depreciating, wry, bluntly honest humour in not only the ordinary mundane day to day things, but in family and unusual situations as well. I read this book in preparation of seeing David live again and it did not disappoint (both the show and the book).

The story is composed of essays on anything from David’s father’s approach to best before dates (ignore them) to working with a Communist removalist. Some are longer than others, but the 10-30 page length makes them just right to read before bed, on a commute or in between TV shows. The collection is divided into two parts, roughly David’s youth and time in Chicago and New York and then moving on to life in France with his partner Hugh. I simply adored it all.

David talks quite a lot about his family in this collection, namely his parents. I was also delighted to ‘meet’ his brother Paul (aka ‘The Rooster’) who talks like he’s in a Tarantino film (or, like that fishing trawler TV show). For someone who swears almost non-stop, his language is incredibly descriptive to the point where I was crying with laughter. David’s father also sounds like a hoot – and has some resemblances to my own family in that he never, ever buys anything that isn’t discounted/reduced to clear. He sounds so much like my grandma/father it made the essay even funnier because I don’t think he was exaggerating!

David’s experience of French classes and trying to learn French in a small village were equally as amusing. I loved that he remembered the random words (e.g. ashtray) much more easily than ‘left’ or ‘right’. His experience of an overseas couple in France telling him he was a ‘smelly little frog’ was also portrayed well, not meanly but clearly showing how narrow minded they were. (Plus he didn’t call them out. That took restraint).

I love how David talked honestly about his failures, drug use and setbacks in life in addition to the funny stuff. To use an American term, you can’t help but root for this guy. He’s an astute observer, witty conversationalist and scarily perceptive. Plus, he gave a young man a bottle of conditioner at the show I went to. What’s not to like? His works always pick me up!

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One thought on “Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris

  1. I even laughed during your review of this book. Especially at your Grandma/Dad. I think we all have at least one person like this in our family. They sound gorgeous. Oh yes, I will definitely read the book.

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