Kim's Reviews > Naked

Naked by David Sedaris
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's review
Jun 29, 2008

really liked it
bookshelves: contemporary, essays, gr-friend-recommendations
Read in June, 2008

I'm being told that this is funny... but so far all I want to do is gather David Sedaris into my arms and rock him back and forth and tell him everything is okay.

Okay, finished. Is it really supposed to be funny? I found myself pretty saddened by most of the stories. He's got a great writing style and I definitely felt pulled into each of the stories, but I think I felt more empathetic than anything.

Especially in "C.O.G":

I didn't want to quit my job. Quitting involved a certain degree of responsibility I didn't want to assume. Rather, I hoped that Jon might remove that burden and dismiss me as soon as possible. I had felt contempt for him, even occasional hatred, and now I was fighting the urge to feel sorry for him. He must have known it, and clearing his throat he proceeded to cut me off at the pass.
"Let me tell you a little something," he said finally. "I don't appreciate being used. I'm not talking here about all the free coffee and rides I've given you. I mean used in here." He meant to point at his heart but, swerving to pass another car, wound up gesturing toward his lap instead. "You're a user, kid. You used my tools and my patience and now you want me to pat you on the head and tell you what a good little boy you are. But you know what? You're not a good boy. You're not even a good girl."
More, I thought. More, more

There's definitely similar themes in each story. He has low self esteem, he sees himself as weak and effeminate and hardly useful. He has strong ties to his family, although he isn't exactly sure why. Sure, they are told with a whimsical air, but I couldn't help but pick up on the self hatred and run with it. Maybe it's where I feel in my own life, but at the end of each story I reflected on his assessments and had to stop myself from breaking down.

In 'Naked' someone asks him the question 'What if everybody in the world were allowed one wish, but in order to get it, it meant they'd bave to crawl around on their hands and knees for the rest of their life?'

His observation:

If I could have the face and body of my dreams, what good would it do me if I had to walk around like an animal? Mabe if I were to wish for happiness, I wouldn't mind crawling -- but what kind of a person would I be if I were naturally happy? I've seen people like that on inspirational television shows and they scare me. Why did I have to think about this in the first place?

I enjoyed his stories and I will most likely read more but I'll have to up my anti-depressant dosage first.

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Comments (showing 1-21 of 21) (21 new)

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Michelle I can't remember if I liked Naked better than Barrel Fever , but they are both good. I had many laugh out loud moments.

Ha ha - I typed "laugh out load" and fixed it. No, they weren't funny enough to laugh out a load.

message 2: by Kim (new) - rated it 4 stars

Kim I just feel so bad for him with the tics and the rocking and the hiding his homosexuality.

I want to bake him cookies.. but my cookie baking skillz are not up to par.. he'd probably just get more depressed.

Valerie I thought that the storied in Barrel Fever were more raw and harsher than those in Naked, so you might not want to go there, Kim. At least not until the uppers kick in.

message 4: by Dan (new)

Dan Raymo Your review made me laugh. It reminded me of when I read "The Miracle Life of Edgar Mint" ... I laughed hysterically the whole time -- then when the Mrs. read it, she said, "what kind of sick fig are you? That was the saddest book I've ever read."

message 5: by Kim (new) - rated it 4 stars

Kim I'm glad I uh... could entertain you Dan. I'm going to drink myself into a stupor now to forget how sad I am for David. :)

Valerie Are you going to read When You are Engulfed in Flames? I just got a notice from the library that it's in and waiting for me... I can let you know if it's really sad.

But I do think you're misinterpreting the "sad". It's his very pathetic-ness that's so funny! You have to embrace the discomfort and go with it. Sometimes the only thing you can do when things get so cringe-worthy that you want to cry is to laugh.

Obviously, you didn't make it to that stage. But I think David would want you to.

Valerie Is it just me, or are all the comments in this thread italicized for some reason?

Michelle All the comments are italicized for some reason. WTF?

message 9: by Kim (new) - rated it 4 stars

Kim It's a weird goof.. it happened when I was posting the review. :(

I got that it was supposed to be funny.. but I just felt that it was a bit too sad to be. You know those types who are legless yet laugh about running marathons? (yeah, neither do I, but it's 6am and I've been up since 3 and it's the best I can do) Like that.

message 10: by Dan (last edited Jul 09, 2008 06:18AM) (new)

Dan Raymo Can we help it if we find other's suffering so damn funny? I suppose that's the sign of a good writer -- the ability to envoke different emotions in different people. By the way...where is this legless marathon, I'd like to see that.

message 11: by Susan (last edited Aug 05, 2008 03:46PM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Susan Yes, pathetic can be funny, which is why people laugh at Woody Allen, Larry David and the 40 Year Old Virgin. And there are moments when I can imagine being in David Sedaris' shoes, and I see the humor in what he is experiencing. But so far (I am about 2/3rd of the way through the book) all I've had from Naked is a handful of chuckles, when I was expecting "side splitting", per the New York Times review, and "laugh out loud", per comments here on Goodreads. A lot of people seem to agree, but I am still parched for a book that is really funny and would appreciate recommendations.

message 12: by Kim (new) - rated it 4 stars

Kim As would I, Susan... as would I.

Susan Kim,
Have you read Funny in Farsi by Firoozeh Dumas? She also writes about growing up in an immigrant family in America. I read that book in no time and laughed from start the finish. Do you find Woody Allen's sense of humor funny? I have one of his books somewhere and should read it again to see if it still makes me laugh.

message 14: by Dan (new)

Dan Raymo The funniest book I've read in a long time was "The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid" by Bill Bryson.

message 15: by Kim (new) - rated it 4 stars

Kim I've added both to my list! Thanks!

Amanda Italics?

Amanda Weird. Is it happening everywhere? This is freaky!
*comes out from under the blankets to check it all out*

Susan Thank you Dan. I'll look for it.

Marty Babits Humor, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. I think Sedaris is very funny because he so often skewers the absurdity in situations but at the same time, he never minimizes the tragic or sadder implications of what he writes about. Your response to the depth of his work shows a compassionate and generous nature. The humor in it, to me, has to do with his having been able, in spite of all the pathos, to survive and appreciate the irony of how rich life can be and how impoverished so many of our life experiences can seem. That's my long way around to saying I like your review.

message 20: by Kim (new) - rated it 4 stars

Kim Thank you Marty!

message 21: by autumn (new)

autumn I guess I can see how it doesn't seem funny at all written out like this. I've always listened to Mr. Sedaris' audiobooks, which he reads aloud himself. I feel that these books really shine brightest in this form, similarly to how Shakespeare's plays are best when performed rather than simply read.

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