Tuesday, January 23, 2018
Books

Notable: Me talk pretty — a David Sedaris roundup

Notable | Me talk pretty

Bestselling humor writer David Sedaris is one of the rock stars of the book tour circuit, often reading his work before sellout crowds. Catch him Thursday night in Tampa and you'll see why: His mordant, self-deprecating wit is even better in performance than on the page.

A regular contributor to NPR's This American Life and the New Yorker, Sedaris has written seven books, which have sold more than 7 million copies and been translated into 25 languages. His most recent book, published in 2010, is Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk: A Modest Bestiary, a skewed set of animal fables that are definitely not for children.

Sedaris will present an all-new reading of his work at 7:30 p.m. Thursday at Tampa Theatre, 711 N Franklin St. A signing follows, with books sold by Inkwood Books of Tampa. Tickets are $44.50-$55.50 at tampatheatre.org.

I'm a longtime fan and admire all of Sedaris' work, but here are three favorites. As wonderfully funny as his books are on the page, I always enjoy them most as audiobooks; all of these are available in print, audio or e-book formats.

Holidays on Ice (1997) is anchored by the story that made Sedaris a star when it was broadcast on NPR in 1992: SantaLand Diaries, a scathingly farcical account of his gig at Macy's one Christmas, playing an elf named Crumpet. Also included is Season's Greetings to Our Friends and Family!!!, a holiday letter that is as uproarious as it is terrifying, plus essays related to Halloween, Easter and more.

Me Talk Pretty One Day (2000) includes several hilarious pieces about the extremely quirky Sedaris family. But the piece de resistance is the title essay, in which Sedaris recounts the language classes he took in France; the first time I listened to it, I almost wrecked my car because I laughed so hard tears squirted out of my eyes and blinded me.

Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim (2004) is, of course, funny, but it's also Sedaris at his most insightful and poignant. Most of these essays have to do with his family, including his Rabelaisian brother, the Rooster; his emotionally fragile sister Lisa; and his mother, long his muse and sparring partner.

Colette Bancroft, Times book editor

 
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