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Dark at the Roots: A Memoirby Sarah Thyre
Synopses & Reviews
The story of one girl's heroic struggle to overcome the lower-middle class obstacles that stood between her and the world she knew she could call her oyster, Dark at the Roots limns the absurdities of growing up funny in the deep south.
When Sarah Thyre was barely out of diapers, her father started referring to her as the "family liar," though no particular incident had provoked this designation. Undaunted by her label, Sarah started referring to herself as Renee and creating scenarios that would help her assimilate up from her chaotic family into a higher social calling. But even as she was clipping an alligator logo off of one shirt to sew onto another, her place in the middle — of her family, her neighborhood, her school, her country — kept humbling her back to just plain Sarah.
In Dark at the Roots, Sarah is catapulted from the relative safety of a nuclear family, through the years of her mother going it alone with five mouths to feed with a steady diet of pasta and fried eggs, to the teenage years where wearing a school uniform was a godsend to a girl unable to afford the latest fashions — if only she would have admitted it. In this telling, Sarah's inimitable sense of humor and resolve are both honed to a fine, sharp point. And though it is occasionally young Sarah who is skewered, she manages to turn her pain into punch lines, leaving little room for doubt that this is how a true humorist is built.
Whether it is a scene where small Sarah accidentally goes "poddy" in the garage during a game of hide-and-seek or medium-sized Sarah survives a fishing trip with her volatile father, or full-sized Sarah wrestles with a tooth she calls "Uncle Wiggly" and all he represents, grown-up Sarah tells her story with self-effacing sincerity and a seemingly invincible sense of humor. With its spare, razor-sharp prose and precision timing, Dark at the Roots emerges as not just a humorous memoir, but a powerful, universal testament to surviving one's rearing and living to laugh in the face of it all.
"Thyre derives much humor from bodily functions, writing about vomit, asthma attacks, the contents of her sibling's diapers and feminine-hygiene products. Her youthful explorations of pornography and the mental and physical shortcomings of others provide further grist for her humor mill." Kirkus Reviews
"[A] book that lives up to its title; it's both harrowing and hilarious." Booklist
"As a big fan of Thyrezine, I can't wait for Dark at the Roots. Sarah Thyre has a remarkable story to tell, and she tells it, well, remarkably." David Sedaris
"Sarah Thyre just happens to be a marvelous writer. Hers is a truly distinct voice with a twisted poet's gift for the perfect turn of phrase. She will be much imitated." David Rakoff
As a middle child raised middle class and stuck out in the middle of Louisiana, hilarious writer and actress Sarah Thyre often found her in-between existence far less than desirable. Even from a young age, Sarah found ways of shirking her own hated identity — whether by stealing someone else's or lying about her own. She changed her name, claimed to be a great outdoorsman, and solicited donations for her favorite charity — which turned out to be, in fact, her. In addition, Sarah lived through the violent struggles between her parents and their often troubled finances, and the stories with which she emerged populate this charming memoir.
About the Author
Sarah Thyre is an actress, comedienne, and writer who has performed on Late Night with Conan O'Brien, Strangers with Candy, Upright Citizens Brigade, and TV Funhouse. She has written and performed her own work on National Public Radio, freshyarn.com, live onstage at New York's Luna Lounge, UCB Theatre, L.A.'s Comedy Central Stage, and ImprovOlympic. Her acting credits include The Real Live Brady Bunch, as well as plays by Amy and David Sedaris, including the Obie-winning One Woman Shoe and Lincoln Center's Incident at Cobbler's Knob. For many years, she also published her own humor zine, Thyrezine. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband and child.
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