For The Someday Book

Posts Tagged ‘humor

Let’s Explore Diabetes With Owls by David Sedaris, Little, Brown and Company, 2013, e-book, 297 pp.

Diabetes with owlsThere 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.

 

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Bossypants, by Tina Fey, Little, Brown and Company, 2011, 277 pp.

After all that hard work, it was time for something totally fun—and this was awesome fun. Celebrity bestsellers are not usually my genre of choice, even for the lightest reading, but I love Tina Fey. Ever since I saw the excerpt “The Mother’s Prayer for Its Daughter” start to circulate around the internet, I knew this would be a good read. I was not disappointed. (And if you haven’t read the “Mother’s Prayer” piece, click on the link right now. Just do it.)

“The Mother’s Prayer” captures what I love about Tina Fey. It’s not just the beautiful, smart, witty, powerful woman that she portrays. It’s not just that she’s wicked funny. It’s that she says out loud the kinds of things that I think in my head, but would be mortified to admit. Only she says them funnier. She brings intelligence, humor, honesty together, but always with a sense of gentleness that makes me think she’s a really nice person, broken like the rest of us.

Bossypants captured that same spirit and voice, and I enjoyed it immensely. There were lots of entertaining stories about life backstage at Saturday Night Live, or how she got into comedy, or what it was like to start 30 Rock, but there were also more pieces like “The Mother’s Prayer,” which also made me pause and think “that’ll preach.”

One of those sections was the opening chapter called, “Origin Story,” which talked about how she got her scar and how the scar has impacted her life. (To be honest, we don’t have a very big TV, and I never realized she had a scar until I read the book.) She realizes that her scar always got her lots of attention, and she always thought of it as an asset rather than a liability.

What should have shut me down and made me feel “less than” ended up giving me an inflated sense of self. … I accepted all the attention at face value and proceeded through life as if I really were extraordinary. I guess what I’m saying is, this has all been a wonderful misunderstanding. And I shall keep these Golden Globes, every last one! (9)

Funny, yes—but also a truth that far too few people understand. Our scars are often what make us extraordinary.

One of my other favorite sections was her description of working at Summer Showtime, a theater program she worked for in high school and college. She describes it as a “haven for gay teens.” (27) That was not its purpose, of course, but she compares it to putting out a bird feeder for birds and attracting a lot of squirrels. She concludes her memories this way:

With his dream of a theater program for young people, Larry Wentzler had inadvertently done an amazing thing for all these squirrels. They had a place where they belonged, and, even if it was because he didn’t want to deal with their being different, he didn’t treat them any differently. Which I think is a pretty successful implementation of Christianity. (43)

Amen.

You rock, Tina Fey. Thanks for making me laugh, making me think, and making me feel good about being a working mother, a bossy woman and a geek.


About Me

I am a full-time pastor in the United Church of Christ, mother of a young child (B.), married to an aspiring academic and curmudgeon (J.). I live by faith, intuition and intellect. I follow politics, football and the Boston Red Sox. I like to talk about progressive issues, theological concerns, church life, the impact of technology and media, pop culture and books.

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