Archive for January 2014
Let’s Explore Diabetes With Owls by David Sedaris, Little, Brown and Company, 2013, e-book, 297 pp.
There is no one who does narrative memoir humor like David Sedaris. It’s been an intense January for me, with lots of distractions. When I needed something easy to read and requiring little concentration for a long plane ride, Sedaris was my guy.
As always, Sedaris has a way of narrating his life that makes us howl with laughter. While this wasn’t quite as laugh-out-loud funny as some of his other books, it was entertaining throughout. Some of the stories come from his adult life in London with his partner Hugh, and include everything from reflections on Obama’s election and visits to the dentist. Others hearken back to childhood experiences like taking home a baby loggerhead turtle, and falling in love with the “kookaburra” song, much to the torment of his father. I especially appreciated the section where he writes about his notebooks–the way he writes down every little thing he notices in the day. Those notebooks eventually inspire the crazy tales we all love. Let’s Explore Diabetes With Owls strays a bit from the other books I’ve read by this author because he occasionally writes pure fiction. He writes first person satire as if he is a high school student, a woman, and an opponent of same-sex marriage, with much humor.
None of the stories stuck in my mind with the clarity and hilarity of some of his other essays, but it was enjoyable and helped me pass a nervous time with a smile.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book as a bit of winter vacation reading. I enjoyed the writing, I enjoyed the setting, I enjoyed the characters, I enjoyed the subject matter, and I enjoyed the unique story.
Tell the Wolves I’m Home tells the story of June Elbus, her sister Greta, and her beloved uncle Finn, who is dying of AIDS in the early years of the epidemic. June adores her uncle, with an adolescent crush on him she tries to hide. He is a famous artist with an apartment in the city, and he dotes on her with special outings and attentions. Before his death, he paints a portrait of June and Greta, to bind them together. When he dies, she receives a secret package containing some of his treasures, and it is delivered by his lover Toby, whom her parents banned from any relationship with her. She begins a secret relationship with Toby, born of mutual grief. Even while it is still secret, it causes enormous tensions within all the family relationships, and the painting becomes the key to everything. To say more would spoil the plot, but trust me when I say it is a story worth reading.
The story is unusual, intricate and moving, with characters that you enjoy and understand and inspire compassion from beginning to end. I wanted to have an uncle like Finn, with a partner like Toby. In spite of the pain and grief of the story, I wanted it to go on and on.