Put succinctly: David Sedaris is one of the precious few things The New Yorker magazine has done right in recent years.
His latest collection of essays is one small gem after another, combining observation, wit, charm and a certain mildly tart humor that comes upon the reader as a subtle hint, at worst a mild jolt, but never a wrenching disconnection.
Sharing carefully culled experiences from his childhood, his travels and general observations about Life in some of its less-contemplated facets, Sedaris has here a wonderful assortment of essays that make for delightful reading. Gifted with an eccentricity of observation which is refreshing but never forced, his take on Life in the present day is to be treasured.
Here is one brief passage, a short several sentences describing a remote town in Australia:
“Our destination that afternoon was a place called Daylesford, which looked, when we arrived, more like a movie set than an actual working town. The buildings on the main street were two stories tall and made of wood, like buildings in the Old West, but brightly painted. Here was the shop selling handmade soaps shaped like petits fours. Here was the fudgery, the jammery, your source for moisturizer. If Dodge City had been founded and maintained by homosexuals, this is what it might have looked like.”
Elsewhere in the same essay, Sedaris sums up Australia for Americans, “It’s Canada in a thong, or that’s the initial impression.”
If you haven’t already picked up the clues, Mr. Sedaris makes no effort to conceal the basic fact of his lifestyle preference. But even in this, his restraint is remarkable. Whereas many writers would feel obliged to confront the reader as if flaunting a social manifesto, Sedaris simply states things in a straightforward manner and proceeds to go on about telling his stories. His book is meant to be entertainment, not some sort of hipness litmus test.
And his humor will make you smile.
Warmly recommended, with only the minor exception noted above.