Should you read Me Talk Pretty One Day, by David Sedaris? I've compiled the following test, based on his writing, to find the answer.
Please read the following passage from the author's essay titled "Big Boy" and answer the following question:
It was Easter Sunday, and I (was) attending an afternoon dinner at the home of (my) friend John. Everyone had taken their places when I excused myself to visit the bathroom, and there, in the toilet was the absolute biggest turd I have ever seen in my life-no toilet paper or anything, just along coiled specimen, as thick as a burrito.
I thought briefly of leaving it behind for someone else to take care of, but it was too late for that. Before getting up from the table, I'd stupidly told everyone where I was going. I should have said I was going to make a phone call. I'd planned to urinate and run a little water over my face, but now I had this to deal with.
Just then, someone knocked on the door and I started to panic.
"Just a minute."
Question 1: Were you amused by the above passage?
If you answered A, then you won't like Me Talk Pretty One Day. Thank you for taking the quiz. You are excused.
If you answered B, then please read on as I discuss the work of David Sedaris.
Though this is a very funny book, I don't want the above passage to mislead you. This book isn't about armpit farts and poop. Rather, it is a group of essays discussing the life and observations of one very funny and sharply twisted man.
Whether it's his childhood speech therapy or continuing college education in the "Bong Studies Program," Mr. Sedaris' observations are guaranteed to elicit genuine laughter from the crankiest of readers (like me).
Nobody is safe from the author's grasp. Everybody is fair game when it comes to material for his books. Several essays are dedicated to the antics of the Sedaris family, who had the privilege of moving from New York City to North Carolina. David's sister, Amy is a comedienne in her own right who has a cable show. Amy appears to be just as cracked as David, and provides some of the humorous stories in the book.
I guess you could classify Me Talk Pretty One Day as being somewhat autobiographical. It details Mr. Sedaris' life from effeminate lispy boy, to college dropout, to drug-addicted performance artist, to guy who moved to Paris to be with his boyfriend. It may sound depressing, but the author's genius comes in part from his ability to find humor in everything. A trait I possess, respect in others, and appreciate in this book.
One of my favorite essays it titled, Jesus Shaves and discusses the quirkiness of translating one language into another. David is living in Paris and taking a French class. The class is made up of all sorts of international students trying to master French, each with his or her own homeland language. The teacher is discussing the holidays on the calendar and asks what they do on Easter. One Moroccan woman in the class has never heard of Easter and the class tries to explain it to her, using the broken beginning French they know.
"It is a party for the little boy of God who call his self Jesus."
"He call his self Jesus and then he be die one day on two.morsels oflumber."
"He weared of himself the long hair after he die, the first day he come back here for to say hello to the peoples."
"He nice, the Jesus."
Of course, only those who have extensive study in another language will understand the humor of trying to piece together random foreign words, learned from a French 101 textbook, to make a intelligible sentence. I personally, can completely relate and found the whole scene hilarious. No introductory textbook will give you the French words you need to describe Easter, you just have to do your best with what you know.
As I sit there and try to sell this book to you, I realize that this is the most difficult review I have ever written. You see, I can't put my finger on Mr. Sedaris and I am having a hell of a time defining him. Apparently others are as well, because of all the reviews I read on his work, no two describe it the same. David Sedaris has that effect on people. Everyone thinks he's funny, yet each person finds humor in a different place.
If the "Big Boy" didn't scare you off, then you should most definitely read Me Talk Pretty One Day. Aside from the poop incident, the rest of the book is filled with razor sharp humor that will make you think. It is a refreshing change of pace from the type of juvenile humor you're bound to run into on network television.
Me Talk Pretty One Day is an ideal read for those who are slightly twisted, not easily offended, and can appreciate a good toilet story when they hear it. Read it soon and I can almost guarantee you won't be disappointed.