NOVEL APPROACH: Sedaris is a hoot

Print This Page

First Posted: 4/16/2013 8:42:00 AM

The title of the work is textbook David Sedaris. A bit uncanny and preposterous, his upcoming collection of narrative essays, “Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls,” evokes a scathing seriousness that readers cannot help but love.

As a writer and humorist, Sedaris is not reticent to discuss particular issues. In fact, he gives his opinion on nearly everything, ranging from socialized medicine to the slightly less trivial topic of crocheted owls. In linear fashion, the title of the collection then becomes a culmination of those explorations.

Each of the essays incorporates Sedaris’s personal experience with the subject or how the particular matter affected those around him. As a result, the work becomes overtly private in many ways. In particular, readers are given a deeply detailed glimpse into Sedaris’s first colonoscopy as well as his memories of family dinners: “From the tabletop up, he was business casual – the ironed shirt, the loosened tie – but from there on down it was just briefs and bare legs.”

Most of the work is strictly Sedaris – a bit absurd at first, much of the content progresses into painstakingly accurate observations. It is, however, important to note that the “etcetera” portion of Sedaris’s work includes six monologues all told in divergent voices. Here, Sedaris gives readers a commingled collection of memoir and fiction.

Throughout our journey to the far realm of the disturbingly weird, we enter an area of cynicism. Of course, what separates Sedaris from being jaded is wit and charm. There are many standout essays throughout the book, including “If I Ruled the World,” “Author, Author,” “I Break for Traditional Marriage,” “Understanding, Understanding Owls,” and “Now Hiring Friendly People.” In the very sarcastic “If I Ruled the World,” Sedaris discusses the concession of all power to Jesus Christ.

“And all the other evil people […] who want to take away our freedom or raise my taxes, they shall know our fury, Jesus’s and mine, and burn forever.”

While the essay is brief, it manages to reflect on many controversial topics that currently divide our society. Like so many of his dazzling essays, Sedaris discusses the illogicality of particular radical viewpoints by stripping down and investigating some of the most fascinating and challenging topics that are America’s current events. Often unexpected and unapologetic, the material can be coarse and mature.

Overall, while the collection is satirical, there are poignant aspects that transport readers back to memories of both innocence and humor. Sedaris then concludes the work just as he begins – with a punch.

‘Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls’ by David Sedaris Rating: W W W W V