Sedaris remains predictably funny in 'Owls'
By Craig Wilson
Published: Saturday, May 4, 2013, 6:03 p.m.
If you are a David Sedaris fan, any new book from the humorist is cause for celebration.
His newest offering, “Let's Explore Diabetes With Owls,” is no exception. It's quintessential Sedaris, which, at first glance, could be troubling.
Sedaris is the master of pointing out the absurd in everyday life, and, at times, it feels as if there's a certain sameness to his work. A well-trod road. Take readers to a certain place, surprise them with a quirky observation, move on. Repeat.
But true Sedaris fans know there's always a laugh-out-loud moment just around the corner, on the next page perhaps, and all is right with the world again. There are far worse sins than being predictably funny. And he is.
This newest collection of essays, however, seems a bit uneven. One essay about a redneck's reaction to same-sex marriage doesn't work. It is decidedly unfunny. But there are enough essays worth the time.
The essay titled “Atta Boy,” for instance. Remember your father, who would never take your side if he caught you in the wrong? Remember being punished? Then you'll love this essay, which points out the absurdity of today's child-rearing techniques in which the child is never, ever wrong.
Or “Standing By,” the essay on air travel. Wonder what people are thinking when they get dressed to go to an airport? So does Sedaris.
“I should be used to the way Americans dress when traveling, yet it still manages to amaze me. It's as if the person next to you had been washing shoe polish off a pig, then suddenly threw down his sponge saying, ‘(Expletive) this! I'm going to Los Angeles!'”
He also includes confessions from flight attendants. You'll never think of the term “crop-dusting” the same way again.
For anyone who is obsessed with litter on the roadside, as this reader is, “Rubbish” will be the essay that steals your heart. Sedaris and his partner, Hugh, have moved to the English countryside, a countryside Sedaris discovers is littered with trash. So what does he do? Yes, trash bags in hand.
“Pick up litter, and people assume that it's your punishment, part of your court-mandated community service,” he writes, admitting that he'll be right out there again the next morning.
And perhaps a sign that Sedaris is maturing is his essay “Memory Laps,” in which he tells of his repeated attempts as a young boy to get his father's attention. Still poignant after all these years.
Craig Wilson is a staff writer for USA Today.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Mt. Lebanon native, actor Manganiello: Mind focus is the key to fitness
- Mental hospital looms large in Smith’s ‘Guests on Earth’
- ‘The Abominable’ is an uphill climb
- Hope, courage spring from Lamb’s ‘Water’