Me Talk Pretty One Day

by David Sedaris | Humor |
ISBN: 9780316073653 Global Overview for this book
Registered by winggorydetailswing of Nashua, New Hampshire USA on 8/26/2021
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Journal Entry 1 by winggorydetailswing from Nashua, New Hampshire USA on Thursday, August 26, 2021
I got this softcover at Barnes and Noble, for another release copy.

I love Sedaris' offbeat, often-dark humor, and this collection is a great example of his work. Not to all tastes, but if you like him you'll be laughing out loud -- though often with a touch of sadness behind the laughter.

There's "Go Carolina", in which he discusses his speech-therapy classes in grade school, to which he and the other boys-with-lisps were sent: "None of the therapy students were girls. They were all boys like me who kept movie star scrapbooks and made their own curtains.... When asked what we wanted to be when we grew up, we hid the truth and listed who we wanted to sleep with when we grew up. 'A policeman or a fireman or one of those guys who works with high-tension wires.'"

He fought back, with a little help from Mom: "After a few weeks of what she called 'endless pestering' and what I called 'repeated badgering,' my mother bought me a pocket thesaurus, which provided me with s-free alternatives to just about everything.... [The therapist] was not amused when I began referring to her as an articulation coach, but the majority of my teachers were delighted. 'What a nice vocabulary,' they said. 'My goodness, such big words!'"

"The Youth in Asia" is about some of the Sedaris pets, including one of David's cats, Neil:


"A week after putting her to sleep, I received Neil's ashes in a forest green can. She'd never expressed any great interest in the outdoors, so I scattered her remains on the carpet and then vacuumed her back up. The cat's death struck me as the end of an era. It was, of course, the end of her era, but with the death of a pet there's always that urge to string black crepe over an entire ten- or twenty-year period. The end of my safe college life, the last of my thirty-inch waist, my faltering relationship with my first real boyfriend: I cried for it all and wondered why so few songs were written about cats.

"My mother sent a consoling letter along with a check to cover the cost of the cremation. In the left-hand corner, on the line marked MEMO, she'd written, "Pet Burning." I had it coming."


The previous passage is a pretty good indicator of the mix of affection and snarkiness that prevails in Sedaris-family relationships, and even though (or perhaps because) I've had to put some of my own beloved cats down over the years, I found it hilarious.

The "Big Boy" essay is one that had me guffawing aloud -- which, as I first heard it via an audiobook version as I was walking around the neighborhood, was more than a little embarrassing. It's one of the cruder articles that he's done, about one of those bathroom situations that one encounters now and then; Sedaris' solution to the problem is perhaps not one that I'd have chosen, but it's an idea!

On a more appetizing note (or is it?), "Today's Special" tackles the world of haute cuisine. David and Hugh are dining out at a fancy New York restaurant, to which David's personal style seems as ill-fitted as the gold-braid-ornamented jacket that the maitre-d' gave him to wear. When the amuse bouche arrives, Sedaris describes it as "roughly the size and color of a Band-Aid," floating "on a shallow, muddy puddle of sauce" -- yum! [I enjoy fancy food, but I admit that sometimes the ingredient lists seem wildly overdone, and I snickered a lot at this entry.]

"City of Angels" deals with unwelcome houseguests -- the kind who are unsatisfied with any local scenes, customs, food, or entertainments, yet who can't be persuaded to give up and go home. As usual, hilarity ensues -- for the reader, at least, who doesn't have to deal with this person!

"A Shiner Like a Diamond" features some of the adventures of David's sister Amy, who shares his weird and often grim sense of humor; having been tapped to participate in a magazine article about "interesting New York women", Amy opted to have herself made up "like someone has beaten the shit out of me," complete with bruises and a huge shiner. After the photo shoot she went out with makeup still in place, just to catch the reactions. [This article also describes her little practical joke on her father, featuring a fat suit -- if it were anybody else I wouldn't believe they'd really done it, but Amy... I can believe!]

"See You Again Yesterday" describes how David met Hugh, something I'd been wondering; it's funny and quirky and sweet, though I still sometimes wonder how anyone could put up with Sedaris for very long. Since it was Hugh who got David to move to France with him, this leads neatly into the title story "Me Talk Pretty One Day," which is about David's attempt to learn French, and the mangled language that comes out of the in-class discussions. This leads into several more essays, including "Jesus Saves" [lots of mistranslations regarding different national holidays, especially the attempts to explain Easter -- including the crucifixion and the Easter bunny -- to people who'd never heard of it]: "'The rabbit of Easter. He bring of the chocolate.'... The teacher sighed and shook her head.... 'No, no,' she said. 'Here in France the chocolate is brought by a big bell that flies in from Rome.' I called for a time-out. 'But how do the bell know where you live?' 'Well,' she said, 'how does a rabbit?' It was a decent point, but at least a rabbit has eyes..."

Sigh; I knew this would happen. I find myself wanting to quote so many bits that I may as well type in the entire book! Well, just one more: the section "The Tapeworm is In" amused me because it's about Sedaris' love of audiobooks: "If a person who constantly reads is labeled a bookworm, then I was quickly becoming what might be called a tapeworm." I've never thought of my own audiobook fondness that way, but having heard Sedaris say it, it's going to be hard to forget!

Anyway: again, he's not to all tastes, but I think he's worth trying. If you like his work you should definitely try to hear his own readings of it, or, better yet, see him in person. Wonderful!

[There's a short TV Tropes page on Sedaris and his work.]

Journal Entry 2 by winggorydetailswing at Mine Falls Park in Nashua, New Hampshire USA on Monday, October 11, 2021

Released 2 yrs ago (10/11/2021 UTC) at Mine Falls Park in Nashua, New Hampshire USA


Guidelines for safely visiting and stocking Little Free Libraries during the COVID-19 pandemic, from the LFL site here.

I left this book, bagged against the elements, hanging from a tree near the Gatehouse parking area on this lovely day; hope someone enjoys it!

[See other recent releases in NH here.]

*** Released for the 2021 Tick Tock challenge. ***

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