This could have been five stars. I have always loved David Sedaris, including his self-absorpsion, that encourages us to do things like look up “Comme de Garcon;” or to consider whether it maybe really is okay to take on all those people who irritate us; or to go online and check out the cost of the Ritz and business class or maybe another home. What is a diary except self-absorption? And his writing and reading (got this on audible) and his decision to have Tracy Ullman read every section that takes place in England or English speaking countries other than those with North American accents is inspired and entertaining. But if you publish your diaries, those of us reviewing your work will judge you at times with as much certainty as you judge others, David. Your nature is what often makes you great when writing sketches of your day to day experiences but it is so often mean-spirited and devastating. I love that David is an avid garbage collector and his descriptions of his finds and the people he encounters in this mammoth task are varied, creepy and sweet. I find it incredible how often and how far he travels and that he tries to learn languages of each destination, often with comic results. It is interesting to get snippets about his long time relationship with Hugh, who is obviously the family cook and house fixer upper as well as an artist and one person who can call David on some of his more unreasonable comments. As always, David finds bizarre trinkets and doodads on shopping excursions, often with a gift recipient in mind and generally I envy his weirdness in that arena. Why can’t I have friends and family who would like that kind of stuff? But he is so nasty about his elderly neighbor’s dog or certain children being children or his siblings that I want to speak to him like a toddler: “Can you think of another way to say that?” I’m trying NOT to be that David, with limited success, so it really jumps out at me. Also, there are times when David sees the world so fundamentally differently from me that I just can’t. He ends the book with one of these and I still feel angry several weeks after I finished the book so… 3 stars. Some of you will like what he said. Here’s my beef. David’s father has qualities we might think of as appealing, such as his love of jazz or odd but not offensive. He also is a political conservative in a time of horrible dissension and conflict, watches Fox News all day and told David, in a painful and horrifying moment, that he voted against gay marriage in North Carolina. He also told David he is disinheriting him which, while it makes sense economically, hurts. Here, I am pro-David and feel his pain. David was for Biden. He is enough against police officers killing Black people at alarming rates and in alarming circumstances such that he thought about joining some NY Black Lives Matter protests. But he ends his book with an obnoxious rant on Confederate statues, suggesting they only should come down so someone else can have a chance and not because slavery was oppressive. He has not done any homework or thought at all about the fact that police officers kill Black people because of generations of bias and oppression. He also does not appear to have read any serious articles on these statutes, which were raised by the Daughters of the Confederacy at the turn of the twentieth century along with a violent rise of violence against Black people. I venture to say that David Sedaris has not chosen to educate himself on how these symbols affect descendants of enslaved people and why they do. Interestingly — he often describes Black people by their race even when it’s not relevant to the segment. He never talks about “white fellows” Pardon me David – but your casual and uneducated tendency toward racist thinking doesn’t sit well with me. It was probably all around you when you were growing up, along with homophobia and your Dad’s not nice treatment of you. It struck me as being as horrible as his statement to you about his vote reads. I don’t know if I’m done with you but right this minute, I’ve stuck a fork in it.
Published by Emily Leader
I have been an avid reader since Dick and Jane met Sally. At age 7, I read my parents' first edition of "To Kill a Mockingbird." I am a retired lawyer and so read almost only fiction for pleasure. I'm adding in nonfiction these days, largely on social justice matters but also history, biography, and weird topics that catch my imagination. I used to read only serially, one book at a time. Presently, I read paperbacks, hardcovers, listen to audible, listen to CDs and read online through Net Galley. Covid-19 has caused me to read a lot so I have re-upped my Goodreads challenge for 2021 and am starting to review at least my favorite finds annd, perhaps, some stinkers. View all posts by Emily Leader