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Me Talk Pretty One Day
Synopses & Reviews
One motivating factor in David Sedaris's move to France was the distinct lack of nonsmoking zones. Overjoyed to find a country that puts ashtrays in hospitals, Sedaris agreed to follow his partner Hugh to France and discovered life in France was more than just Gauloises (and "taxidermied kittens"). David Sedaris's distinctive voice, first made famous in wickedly amusing commentaries for National Public Radio, elevates this hilarious collection of essays (his fourth). In print, his attempts to learn French are pretty damn funny. But it's a full force delight to listen as he recounts in his signature pip-squeak voice: "I went 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." Interspersed with observations of his new home are anecdotes about his family and events from his life. While his life has been somewhat odd (guitar lessons from a breast-obsessed midget, speech therapy from a southern June Cleaver-like sadist, a stint teaching art students to "guessay" the next day's soap opera story line) his acute and hilarious observations never fail to hit the heart as well as the funny bone. Georgie, Powells.com
"As far as I was concerned, the French could be cold or even openly hostile. They could burn my flag or pelt me with stones, but if there were taxidermied kittens to be had then I would go and bring them back to this, the greatest country on earth."
David Sedaris's new collection, Me Talk Pretty One Day, tells a most unconventional life story. It begins with a North Carolina childhood filled with speech-therapy classes ("There was the lisp, of course, but more troubling than that was my voice itself with its excitable tone and high, girlish pitch") and unwanted guitar lessons taught by a midget. From budding performance artist ("The only crimp in my plan was that I seemed to have no talent whatsoever") to "clearly unqualified" writing teacher in Chicago, Sedaris's career leads him to New York (the sky's-the-limit field of furniture moving) and eventually, of all places, France.
Sedaris's move to Paris poses a number of challenges, chief among them his inability to speak the language. Arriving a "spooky man-child" capable of communicating only through nouns, he undertakes language instruction that leads him ever deeper into cultural confusion. Whether describing the Easter bunny to puzzled classmates, savoring movies in translation ("It Is Necessary to Save the Soldier Ryan"), or watching a group of men play soccer with a cow, Sedaris brings a view and a voice like none other.
Denver Post, 6/25/00 "...genius lies in transforming strangeness, obsessive voyeurism and endearingly snotty observations into wildly entertaining art...he has earned a place as one of America's finest...humorists..."
LA Weekly Literary Supplement "...celebrates its author's ability to mock himself...while wildly funny, is also moving..."
Seattle Times 6/11/00 " ...deftly navigates some unsettling subject matter...ultimately, it's his notes of rapture that leave the strongest impressions..."
Publishers Weekly, 5/8/00 "...Sedaris is nothing if not nimble...he will exhaust readers of this new book too--with helpless laughter..."
Colorado Springs Gazette, 6/18/00 "...funny, smart, and wickedly observant...but it's the other stories in which he redeems ...smarting pain...with searing humor where Sedaris is at his best..."
Boston Book Review, July/August 2000 "...his brilliance resides in a capacity to surprise, associate, and disassociate, and the result is something like watching lightning strike in slow motion..."
"[T]he stronger chapters in this book tend to be the ones that mix satire with sentiment, brazenness with rumination. Those pieces reveal a writer who is capable not only of being funny, but touching, even tender, too." Michiko Kakutani, New York Times
"David Sedaris's deadpan delivery is the perfect foil to the bizarre in his latest collection of essays, and it's hard to imagine another reader recounting these unlikely anecdotes." Audiofile
Best of the Best. A recent transplant to Paris, humorist David Sedaris, bestselling author of Naked, presents a collection of his strongest work yet, including the title story about his hilarious attempt to learn French.
Compared by The New Yorker to Twain and Hawthorne, David Sedaris has become one of the best-loved humorists of our time, writing with perfect pitch about the ludicrousness of our age. His new collection features his strongest work yet. His recent move to Paris inspired several classic tales, including the title story, "Me Talk Pretty One Day", about his hilarious attempts to learn French. His family is another source of humor, inspiring "You Can't Kill the Rooster", a portrait of a brother who talks incessant hip-hop to his bewildered father. Featuring some pieces that have never been published and many that have appeared on National Public Radio, in The New Yorker, and Esquire, this is a hilarious collection that shouldn't be missed.
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