Reading this collection of essays is a lot like talking with the friend you grew up with and now meet for drinks with every few months. They are personal, hilarious stories that give a brilliant colour to humanity.
Me Talk Pretty One Day is David Sedaris’s third book, picking up where his previous book Naked left off, and is a rough autobiography of his life. It is divided into two parts– part one follows his childhood, his years in college as an experimental artist and drug user, and then his move to New York City where he befriends a communist, a schizophrenic, and a murderer. Part deux, which he thoughtfully translates for the readers as “two”, follows his relationship with boyfriend Hugh and their gradual move to France.
Each essay is a little vignette of a poignant moment in his life and, as the title implies, revolve around language or communication. In part one, readers get an intimate look at his family who are more colourful than the Brady Bunch in their Variety Hour years (and with just as many instruments). Sedaris struggles with his lisp, his brother Paul “The Rooster” can’t get through one sentence without cursing at least three times, and his sister Amy takes on different personas and disguises. Reading about his french classes were like reliving the four years I studied the language, as I too had a hard time memorising and assigning gender articles ” to an inanimate object incapable of disrobing and making an occasional fool of itself”.
Sedaris uses humour that many twenty somethings nowadays rely on: self deprecation and exaggeration. He also doesn’t spare the feelings of those he writes about, including his family, but don’t we all make major hyperboles when telling stories? My aunt once told our family not to believe anything my mother or I said because all we do is exaggerate. I can’t really defend myself. Last week my mother was panicking that her computer was broken and she couldn’t do anything on it when in reality she just couldn’t open Chrome.
If you’re like me and in need of a bit of light reading, this is the perfect palate cleanser. The essays are short and full of one liners you wish you would have thought up on your own and because the language is so informal and conversational, it’s easy to breeze through.
This collection of essays is recommend for readers with a penchant for sarcasm and occasional pessimism hiding a squishy, nougat centre.