Merry Christmas for those that celebrate! In honor of Christmas eve, I’m posting about holidays on ice, one of the books I received from my wonderful Secret Santa Jeanne (her blog is the cleverly titled: Necromancy Never Pays).
I love David Sedaris. His books are hilarious, dark, smart, and insightful. He’s anything but politically correct and he has a fascination with the macabre. If you can get past that, his essays are almost charming. I thought the book would be essays about his life and childhood and for the most part it is, but there were a few stories thrown in as well. A speech by a television producer made me laugh (I live in LA and know people like that!) and his story “Christmas Means Giving” is the perfect example of satire. If I taught high school English (which I don’t, so this probably doesn’t mean much), I would teach it alongside Modest Proposal.
I especially enjoyed the holiday letter written by a woman who was in the news for legal troubles. I don’t want to give away the end, but it’s a a perfect example of the use of a narrator with a specific viewpoint that forces the reader to try to sift through the facts and figure out what really happened. The sense that the narrator might not be completely truthful was gradual and I loved the effect. At first I was thinking “Wow, this woman is a little too honest for a holiday letter” and by the end I was trying to figure out the real story. Brilliant.
Most of all, I love the way Sedaris paints himself and his own life. Stories here range from his time working as an elf at Macy’s, convincing his six-year old sister to try to get hit by a car, and to when the family brought home a hooker for Christmas (that story was titled Dinah, the Christmas Whore… sounds like it should be a carol). Most of the stories are Christmas themed, but other holidays are represented as well.
Sedaris travels a lot (according to his other book that I’ve read) and his take on other cultures is hilarious. Sedaris had this to say upon learning that the French believe a bell flies in from Rome to deliver chocolates on Easter :
And why fly one in from Rome when they’ve got more bells than they know what to do with right here in Paris? That’s the most implausible aspect of the whole story, as there’s no way the bells of France would allow a foreign worker to fly in and take their jobs. That Roman bell would be lucky to get work cleaning up after a French bell’s dog–and even then he’d need papers. It just didn’t add up.
Sedaris is not just funny, he’s smart, and I can’t wait to read another of his collections.