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Let’s Explore Diabetes With Owls by David Sedaris

Source:  Little, Brown & Company
Hardcover, 275 pages
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Let’s Explore Diabetes With Owls by David Sedaris is a collection of essays and some short blurbs that he suggests could be used by students in their competitions for “forensics.”  Many people talk about Sedaris’ humor and outrageous tales, and while many will look for his signature humor here, they may find that it is a bit subdued and less abrasive than usual.  Many of these essays seem more reflective than probing (think poking with a needle), but they also resemble the tall tales that young children tell their parents when explaining what they did that day or why they got in trouble, etc.

“Their house had real hardcover books in it, and you often saw them lying open on the sofa, the words still warm from being read.” (page 60 ARC)

The first two essays in the collection showcase backhanded sarcasm aimed at American and especially modern ideas about parenting and socialized healthcare, especially the dark fear that socialized healthcare means dirty cots and “waiting for the invention of aspirin” and the coddling of kids who are clearly engaged in bad behaviors simply because a stranger points out the child’s misbehavior.  The end of the collection, “Dog Days,” is a bit more crass in its humor, written in a rhyming poem about various dogs and the parts of themselves that are licked, snipped, and dipped.  These little stanzas were by turns slightly funny to just mediocre as they are things that any person with “toilet” humor would come up with.  In this essay collection, they stood out from the rest, but in a grotesque way.

The essays that reach back into his early family life are the most interesting, and the essay “Author, Author” is ironically humorless in its telling, but it drives the point home not only about author tours — the good and the bad — but also the changing landscape of book stores and readers.  Let’s Explore Diabetes With Owls by David Sedaris is an interesting essay collection, but fans may find it a bit more subdued than his other work.

About the Author:

David Sedaris is a playwright and a regular commentator for National Public Radio. He is also the author of the bestselling Barrel Fever, Naked, Holidays on Ice, Dress Your Family in Corduroy, Denim, When You Are Engulfed in Flames and Me Talk Pretty One Day. He travels extensively though Europe and the United States on lecture tours and lives in France.  Visit his Website.
This is my 41st book for the 2013 New Authors Challenge.
  • I have never read any of his books!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • This was my first, and I wasn’t as impressed as I expected I would be.

  • I’d never read Sedaris until you bookmarked those two essays for me to read, and after reading those, I can’t say I’m impressed. Ah well.

    • I think this is something that should be heard, not read…like Julie suggested

  • I guess I can see where you’re coming from but I just thought most of the stuff was tongue in cheek. I listed to the book and I am positive that had something to do with it. I love the his audiobooks.

    • Julie: If I try another of his books, I’ll look for an audio book. That might be the best way to go for me.

  • This wasn’t my favorite Sedaris book but I did like it. I think his strength is in his personal essays and he tried a little too hard for social commentary in some of these.

    • Agreed. This is my first Sedaris book. It was kind of disappointing after all the hype about his essays, but there were some good ones in it.