ME TALK PRETTY ONE DAY contains far more than just the funniest collection of autobiographical essays - it quite well registers as a manifesto about language itself. Wherever there's a straight line, you can be sure that Sedaris lurks beneath the text, making it jagged with laughter; and just where the fault lines fall, he sits mischievously perched at the epicenter of it all.
No medium available to mankind is spared his cultural vision; no family member (even the dynasties of family pets) is forgotten in these pages of sardonic memories of Sedaris's numerous incarnations in North Carolina, Chicago, New York, and France.
One essay, punctuated by a conspicuous absence of s's and plurals, introduces the lisping young fifth-grader David "Thedarith," who arms himself with a thesaurus, learns every nonsibilant word in the lexicon, eludes his wily speech therapy teacher, and amazes his countrified North Carolina teachers with his out-of-nowhere and man-size vocabulary.
By an ironic twist of fate, readers find present-day Sedaris in France, where only now, after all these years, he must cling safely to just plural nouns so as to avoid assigning the wrong genders to French objects. (Never mind that ordering items from the grocer becomes rather expensive.) Even the strictest of grammarians won't be able to look at the parts of speech in the same way after exposing themselves to the linguistic phenomena of Sedarisian humor. Just why is a sandwich masculine, and yet, say, a belt is feminine in the French language? As he stealthily tries to decode French, like a cross between a housewife and a shrewddetective, he earns the contempt of his sadistic French teacher and soon even resorts to listening to American books on tape for secret relief.
What David Sedaris has to say about language classes, his brother's gangsta-rap slang, typewriters, computers, audiobooks, movies, and even restaurant menus is sure to unleash upon the world a mad rash of pocket-dictionary-toting nouveau grammarians who bow their heads to a new, inverted word order.
Part of the Honeymoon Reads Collection
Sedaris is Garrison Keillor's evil twin: like the Minnesota humorist, Sedaris (Naked) focuses on the icy patches that mar life's sidewalk, though the ice in his work is much more slippery and the falls much more spectacularly funny than in Keillor's. Many of the 27 short essays collected here (which appeared originally in the New Yorker, Esquire and elsewhere) deal with his father, Lou, to whom the book is dedicated. Lou is a micromanager who tries to get his uninterested children to form a jazz combo and, when that fails, insists on boosting David's career as a performance artist by heckling him from the audience. Sedaris suggests that his father's punishment for being overly involved in his kids' artistic lives is David's brother Paul, otherwise known as "The Rooster," a half-literate miscreant whose language is outrageously profane. Sedaris also writes here about the time he spent in France and the difficulty of learning another language. After several extended stays in a little Norman village and in Paris, Sedaris had progressed, he observes, "from speaking like an evil baby to speaking like a hillbilly. `Is thems the thoughts of cows?' I'd ask the butcher, pointing to the calves' brains displayed in the front window." But in English, Sedaris is nothing if not nimble: in one essay he goes from his cat's cremation to his mother's in a way that somehow manages to remain reverent to both of the departed. "Reliable sources" have told Sedaris that he has "tended to exhaust people," and true to form, he will exhaust readers of this new book, tooDwith helpless laughter. 16-city author tour. (June) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
Showing 1-4 of the 4 most recent reviews
1 . David Sedaris
Posted July 10, 2013 by Ani , DenverDavid Sedaris captures his sister brilliantly in this book: Amy adored both the new look and the new person it allowed her to be. Following the photo shoot, she wore her bruises to the dry cleaner and the grocery store. Most people nervously looked away, but on the rare occasions someone would ask what happened, my sister would smile as brightly as possible, saying, 'I'm in love. Can you believe it? I'm finally, totally in love, and I feel great. A fabulous read, though I think his sister is funnier than he is. What a great family to have two such brilliant artists.
2 . Pretty Clever
Posted July 03, 2013 by Katie , Atlanta"If you aren't cute, you may as well be clever." Well David Sedaris is certainly clever and never more so than in Me Talk Pretty One Day. A friend gave it to me when I was down and I recommend anyone to give it to a friend that needs cheering up. It helped me so much.
3 . not that funny
Posted June 19, 2010 by pjellen , clevelandI haven't read any of David Sedaris' other books. I bought this one because I read other reviews that it was "hilarious". Unfortunately, I can't agree. I have read to page 63 and have yet to find anything to "laugh out loud" about. To me it is a very boring book and I probably won't finish it. Wish I hadn't wasted my money.
4 . You will laugh out loud!
Posted February 22, 2010 by Faye , Vancouver, BCThis is probably the funniest book I have ever read. You can't help but laugh right out loud and this is not just my experience. Others who have read it told me they couldn't stop laughing as well. I've read several other books by David Sedaris and if you are only comtemplating one of his, make it this one.
Back Bay Books
April 30, 2009
Number of Print Pages*
Adobe DRM EPUB
* Number of eBook pages may differ. Click here for more information.