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on June 27, 2004
Sedaris, in another collection of autobiographical essays, showcases his wit and dares to be as politically incorrect and offensive while still maintaining a strong pull at the heartstrings of the reader. This is a book to read on those days when you just think your life couldn't get any weirder- and you will thank Sedaris for demonstrating how relatively normal your life is.
Part One of this book is a collection of autobiographical essays from various times in his life, including a hysterical essay about teaching a writing class entitled "The Learning Curve," as well as the essay entitled "The Youth in Asia" about his family's pets, which is all at once laugh-out-loud funny, and oddly touching and thought-provoking. This is a pattern one will find in Sedaris's writing. He falls in the same category as Kurt Vonnegut was labeled: a Zany satirist with a heart. And indeed, he has a heart, strange and twisted, but still lovable. Through his misadventures, tales of a grandmother who he couldn't stand and being glad of her passing, and tales of weeping at the death of a cat ("she was never really fond of the outdoors, so I sprinkled her ashes on the carpet and vacuumed them up,") we gain a particular insight into our own social dysfunctionalities while laughing at another person's.
Part Deux (part TWO, for those of you less inclined towards the French language) is about Sedaris's (mis?)adventures in France with his partner. Sedaris takes a stab at religion, the Easter Bunny and French Easter traditions all in one swipe in the essay "Jesus Shaves," while providing a touching and serious explanation of the importance of faith. In his typical style, however, he pins onto the end of this touching monologue the phrase "that's just f*cked up" as a mischievous punchline. In this section of the book, we also follow him on adventures with the concept of masculine and feminine vowels in French, and how he avoids this conflict by referring to everything in the plural. ("Hugh may be annoyed by the two turkeys in the freezer, but wait until he sees the CD players I got him for his birthday.")
This collection of essays will consistently make you laugh, while maintaining a strong emotional connection to your own life: In this book one can glimpse elements of their own predicaments and faults, while laughing over how much stranger Sedaris's are. For all the authors that strive to make their everyday characters able to relate to everyday persons, Sedaris makes the reader able to relate to himself through the insane exaggerations and misadventures that we all like to think we have. Me Talk Pretty One Day is a great book! Don't Miss it! Another Amazon quick-pick I recommend is The Losers Club by Richard Perez
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on January 23, 2004
Author David Sedaris weaves a series of lighthearted anecdotal essays into an amusing and somewhat engaging book. Well written, the book flows easily. But I have to admit that unlike many of the previous reviewers I did not find Me Talk Pretty One Day to be particularly laugh-out-loud funny. Amusing and entertaining, yes. A smirk and a smile every now and then. But it's more like a good walk and a bright sunny day. Very enjoyable but not tremendously memorable. Good if you are looking for something easy to pass the time.
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on April 17, 2007
My first attempts at reading David Sedaris's stories did not go well. I didn't find the stories funny, and found it difficult to find the desire to pick up the book and read it. It wasn't until I listened to the Audiobooks that I found the humour. Narrated by the author and his sister Amy, the stories take on a new life, and the humour is undeniable. When returning to the books, I then had his voice and delivery in my mind as I read, and I finally saw all of the good things that I had been hearing about this author. For those who are inclined to give a negative review after reading his book, I urge you to seek out the audiobooks first, and listen to the stories as the author had intended them. There is a reason that he sells out book reading tours.
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on September 30, 2003
David Sedaris is a funny man. But he's not the "funniest man in America" as he has often been billed during his recent speaking tour.
"Me Talk Pretty One Day" is humorous, but not "laugh-out-loud funny."
The majority of problems are with the stories dealing with his family. His family members are indeed quirky, but the stories he tells are you-had-to-be-there stories. I think my siblings and parents are hilarious too, but I'm humble enough to realize that anyone who didn't grow up in our household does not find our childhood anecdotes nearly as amusing as those of us who were there.
This book improves during part "deux," wherein Sedaris sticks for the most part to describing his experiences as an American living in France. It is in these stories/essays that Sedaris's true gift shines through: he has quite a talent for pointing out the absurd in society. Yet, entertaining as they were, not even these stories are ones I would consider "laugh-out-loud funny." I suppose I would have liked this book better had the blurbs from reviews featured on the cover not oversold Sedaris's comedic talents.
All in all, this book is entertaining when Sedaris is shining a light on society's foibles. When he turns that light on himself and his own neuroses, things begin to wear thin; and when he begins to speak of his family, the book is unremarkable at best, and, more often than not, completely unentertaining.
Again, I probably would have liked it better had my expectations not been set so high.
"River Teeth" by David James Duncan is in this same vein, but much, much better.
If you just want to laugh, anything by Dave Barry is sure to hit the spot.
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on October 4, 2000
I read this book right after reading Bill Bryson's I'm a Stranger Here Myself. It seems to me that there is a recent theme in new books that centers around humor at the expense of a person who is experiencing culture shock. Since this seems to be the recent theme, I suppose there's no harm in writing yet another book review with a theme of culture shock.
Davis Sedaris' Me Talk Pretty One Day combines two of the world's greatest cities- New York and Paris- with humor, all in one book that is incredibly hard to put down. The book is comprised of a series of humorous personal experience pieces, the first half of which take place in Sedaris' native New York City and the second half of which take place in Paris, where he moves to temporarily with his boyfriend Hugh.
The first essay in Me Talk Pretty One Day sets the fast and funny pace continued throughout the rest of the book. It also sets the theme of "culture shock" in one's own county, because Sedaris comments on many experiences in his youth that made him feel alienated from other people in his own environment. In it, Sedaris discusses the speech impediment (aka "lisp") that he had as a child and still has to this day. The efforts of his speech teacher to correct the lisp were never successful, but Sedaris' descriptions of them are hilarious. He writes about the kids who were in his speech therapy class, saying, "None of the speech therapy students were girls. They were all boys like me who kept movie star scrapbooks and made their own curtains... 'One of these days I'm going to have to hang a sign on that door,' [my speech teacher] used to say. She was probably thinking along the lines of SPEECH THERAPY LAB, though a more appropriate marker would have read FUTURE HOMOSEXUALS OF AMERICA".
Even when Sedaris writes about such mundane things as restaurant menus and crossword puzzles, or such serious things as Euthanasia, he is so funny and absurd that you begin to wonder if he takes anything about life in New York City seriously. However, just as you are wondering this, he sweeps you off to Paris to read his wacky comments on life there. Sedaris never did learn French fluently, nor did he do all the touristy things such as seeing the Louvre and the Eiffel Tour. Instead, he watched American movies in English in French theatres because "I've never considered myself an across-the-board apologist for the French, but there's a lot to be said for an entire population that never, under any circumstances, talks during the picture... I can't remember the last time I've enjoyed silence in an American theatre".
If you have ever been to a foreign country, whether as an American who is embarrassed by the other American tourists that surround you, or as a member of a different nationality who makes fun of the American tourists, you will laugh along in complete understanding with Sedaris' comments on the two types of French that Americans speak: "the Hard Kind and the Easy kind. The Hard Kind involves the conjugation of wily verbs and the science of placing them alongside various other words in order to form such sentences as 'I go him say good afternoon'... The second, less complicated form of French amounts to screaming English at the top of your lungs, much the same way you'd shout at a deaf person or the dog you thought you could train to stay off the sofa".
Me Talk Pretty One Day is guaranteed to give you an insider's look at culture shock in one's own country and abroad. It will also give you an insider's look at life in New York City and Paris. But best of all, it will give you this dose of culture shock (and if you've read I'm a Stranger Here Myself, make that your second recent dose), with a strong dose of humor. And that makes everything just a little bit better.
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on June 4, 2003
As I purchased this book simply because it appears on so many Francophile listamania lists, I prepared myself for a throughly enjoyable and hysterically humorous read based on the 400+ reviews that pumped up the pleasure factor of this book to the almost unrealistic level of master satirist Mark Twain. While the book is funny, I was disappointed to discover that it really was not about France or the French---the essay entitled "Me Talk Pretty One Day", indeed narrates the author's amusing and insightful struggle with learning the French language while at a language school in Paris, but it is only one out of perhaps four or five essays about France, the majority of the book deals with Sedaris' issues with himself and his colorful family back in the US. (Now, please, just because I am warning those Amazon customers who wish to purchase a book about France and the French and were directed to this book by listamania listings, don't immediately click the "no" button as if the rest of my review isn't worth reading. Alas, I was sadly misdirected as most likely others are, too and should not be penalized for telling the truth as I see it. Nor should anyone rate anyone's review negatively simply because it expresses an alternative opinion.) Because of this misdirection, I read the first half of this book--which has nothing to do with France--with anticipation of when France and the French were going to pop up in the author's humorous anecdotes and musings regarding this understanding of life. By the time I got to the second part, where Sedaris travels to Paris with his boyfriend, I had already realized that this book of essays was just that: a book of essays containing only a few essays about France. I confess to skimming through the contents of each essay before deeming it worthy of my time--sorry to those of you who simply love everything Sedaris--and I will say that the French essays in the book are well worth the read---I just wish there had been a whole book dedicated to just this topic.

Therefore, if like myself, you have happened upon this page simply to read a book about France, save your money and either read the few French themed essays in the library or bookstore. Buy instead "On Rue Tatin"--the telling of an American woman and her husband who buy an old convent north of Paris or any of the Provence books by UK author Mayle. These books are not meant to be funny in a satirical manner, but instead convey an idea of the French and their country from alien prospectives.
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on July 25, 2002
According to almost all of the other reviews, here and elsewhere, this entire book is screaming/rolling on the floor/laughing out loud funny. I did NOT find this to be so, and it's not like I'm one of those people who never laughs out loud; I laugh all the time. So, expecting to be disturbing friends and strangers by laughing in public places for no apparent reason, I was a little bit disappointed when ME TALK PRETTY ONE DAY turned out to be much more subtle and profound than uproariously funny.
I'm still not over that disappointment, but I found myself through the book in two short afternoon sittings, thoroughly enjoying the ride and a little [angry] when it ended so abruptly. Sedaris writes about anything and everything with consistent humor -- something few writers can really pull off -- that had me more or less constantly smiling. (And then occasionally a real laugh -- the kind that ends with gasping and tears in your eyes -- would escape me, most memorably during the three page "Big Boy.") He's a little bit cynical and a little bit insecure and at the same time totally unapologetic, and the mix works very well. Disappointments aside, I'd buy another of his books any day.
(Side note to those who are looking for constant, crazy laughter of the kind descibed above: read anything -- ANYTHING -- by Bill Bryson.)
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on February 21, 2002
I am in highschool, and after an essay I wrote a teacher said i had the same writing style as David Sedaris. After browsing for hours in a bookstore(like I do every weekend), I came across the book. The title page was enough to bring me in. I had no idea what the book would be about, but i absolutly had to read it.
I was suprised at how funny it was. I started passing around the book showing my friends. Some of his characters even reminded me of my friends. I think overall the favorite chapter was, "You Can't Kill the Rooster". The way he portrays his brother is hilarious.
Dont be suprised if your absolutly drawn in by this book. Highschoolers love it, my teacher recommends it, and even my parents got laughs out of it. The book is so painstakingly true to life, anyone can relate.
I think my teacher gave me the best compliment anyone ever could. David Sedaris is one of the best writers out there. We read a couple chapters over lunch- I wouldnt advise that unless you have got some napkins handy.
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on December 7, 2001
I read this book based on numerous suggestions by friends. Bear in mind that I believe these people are very intelligent and I almost universally find humor in the same things they do. Given all that, I don't know why they liked this book so much. Perhaps I had an experience with overinflated expectations. David Sedaris is often called a "witty" writer. In my dictionary, wit is defined as "the ability to perceive and express in an ingeniously humorous manner the relationship between seemingly incongruous or disparate things." If this is what happens in Me Talk Pretty One Day, I completely missed it.
To me Sedaris was smug and his self-deprecation seemed completely insincere. Even when talking about how he is bad with scientific things, you get the feeling that he thinks it is better to be scientifically ignorant. My experience with reading Sedaris's tales was one of excrutiating tedium. He is very popular and liked by many of my friends so there must be something here that appeals to people. It simply doesn't appeal to me.
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on October 16, 2001
Maybe it's just because I think too much like David Sedaris, but I didn't find his stories humorous. I saw the punchlines coming.
It could be my internal tendencies towards homosexuality which I vehemently deny, especially to my girlfriend. It could be that I'm a southern libertarian yearning for the simpler days like those found in "Run with the Horseman" which had me rolling (and alternately crying), though I'm not political.
If you want twists, read some of Roald Dahl's short stories. If you want funny morals, read Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, or even better the Memoirs of Casanova). If you want contemporary intellectual humor, read David Foster Wallace (I haven't finished Infinite Jest because I have yet to find it minimally giggly (too tongue in cheek, ala Catch-22) but it is intellectual and it's supposed to be funny.
Sure, I chuckled a few times here and there but nothing caused me to lose my composure and laugh loud enough to embarass myself in public. The text was too big, the book was too short, and the writing too simple. If you are determined to read this, save your cash and check it out of the library.
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