So, David Sedaris can be hilarious. He can be laugh out loud funny in fact, but sometimes he is only incidentally humorous. When I picked up a copy of Me Talk Pretty One Day I expected that my uncontrollable laughter would have cafes full of people staring at me as I guffawed uncontrollably at Sedaris’ literary antics.
Often the essays seemed contrived, amusing anecdotes that I almost made me laugh but didn’t.
Even so (and not to contradict myself) I did enjoy the book. In one particularly funny essay titled “The Learning Curve,” Sedaris recounts his brief stint teaching a writing workshop. With no qualifications, the situation quickly goes downhill. Sedaris has never actually published any of his own writing at this point. One of the most amusing moments is when he neurotically asserts his power by closing and opening the door, something the students would need permission to do.
Several essays are devoted to the author’s experiences abroad. Sedaris’ observations on living in a different culture will definitely resonate with anyone who has ever lived in a foreign country. As he explains it,
“you meet a guy, relinquish a tiny bit of control, and the nest thing you now, you’re eating a different part of the pig.”
In the title essay, Sedaris describes his hilarious experiences in his French language class complete with the stereotypical anti-foreign Parisian teacher. Regularly berated by her, the students comfort each other in their broken French. I couldn’t help but laugh at their exchange: “Sometime me cry alone at night,” one says.“That be common for I, also, but be more strong, you. Much work and some day you talk pretty,” responds another.
Sedaris is definitely a master at coloring the everyday events of life with his outlandish embellishments. The collection also includes essays on his family and experiences as drug-induced artists, which are too outrageous to be completely true. That, however, will make you enjoy them all the more.
David Sedaris reads his own work in the studio and live. While I would normally prefer to have an author read his own work, in this case I found Sedaris’ voice to be a bit mealy and not terribly pleasant.