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"Before you know it as the years go by, you're just like other people you have seen, with all those peculiar human ailments. Just another vehicle for temper and vanity and rashness and all the rest. Who wants it? Who needs it? These things occupy the place where a man's soul should be." -- Henderson the Rain King

Saturday, February 05, 2005

Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim

I recently finished book #5 in my 50 book challenge, David Sedaris' Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim. Having completed this guy, I've now read all four of Sedaris' major books: this one, Me Talk Pretty One Day, Naked, and Barrel Fever. Although I've found them all to be somewhat amusing, I'm not sure why he gets as many accolades as he does. For instance, take these quotes from the back cover of the book:

"Sedaris has a satirical brazenness that holds up next to Twain and Nathanael West." - The New Yorker

"If wit were measured in people, David Sedaris would be China: His talent is that huge." - Denver Rocky Mountain News

While you might be able to convince me that Sedaris belongs on the list of the wittiest authors of the last decade or so, I have a hard time believing that people really would put him in the same class as someone like Mark Twain. The books have their moments but come on people, there's way funnier stuff out there if you just look a little harder. Jon Stewart's America the Book made me laugh out loud. Neal Pollack's Anthology of American Literature made me laugh out loud. Sedaris' sister Amy's book Wigfield made me laugh out loud. Dress Your Family made me chuckle a couple of times, but it just doesn't hit me on that same level.

That's not to say the book is without merit. For instance, anytime Sedaris writes about his brother "The Rooster" it is hilarious. If he ever puts together a book that's nothing but stories about his brother I'll be the first in line to pick up a copy. There are lots of other entertaining short stories in the book, so all in all it's worth the read even if it's not worth the hype.