Jessica's Reviews > Let's Explore Diabetes with Owls

Let's Explore Diabetes with Owls by David Sedaris
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bookshelves: essays, nonfiction, humor, short-stories

David Sedaris is one of my favorite authors. If you asked me in college what my top five books were, Me Talk Pretty One Day and Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim would have been on there. He's certainly an author whose work I seek out whenever I hear word of a new release. And when I was carrying around Let's Explore Diabetes with Owls, a number of strangers stopped me to ask how the book was. While I certainly enjoyed reading it, I've started to notice certain patterns in Sedaris' writing that delighted me when they were novel, but I've gotten used to. And maybe I had a bit of a keener eye after reading Tenth of December, but there was more satire that I'm used to from Sedaris. Actually, Sedaris' fiction always fell into the satire genre, but I really didn't enjoy it in Holidays on Ice, so I never bothered to read Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk: A Modest Bestiary, especially since it got mixed reviews. But surprisingly to me, I really enjoyed Sedaris' four works of fiction, the "Etc." in the "Essays, Etc." subtitle. In the forward to the book, Sedaris writes that he's been approached many times over the years by high schoolers participating in forensics, a subsect of debate in which teens recite several pages of text. So Sedaris created the etc. for them, which I think is pretty cool. These stories aren't marked as fiction (as opposed to the essays, which are all nonfiction), so at first it's a little confusing because you think it's about Sedaris' life until you get to the part where a wife, husband, or child is mentioned, all of which Sedaris fans will know that he doesn't have. My favorite piece is "Mind the Gap," about an American teen who spends a week abroad and comes back with an affected British accent and the complete. With just a few sentences Sedaris reveals just how deluded she really is. Hilarious, and perfect satire.

But of course, what you're REALLY reading Sedaris' work for is his stories about his life, whether that's his observations of the differences between the US and European healthcare systems, a painfully tragic tale of finding and taking home sea turtles as a boy, or his quest to find his boyfriend Hugh a stuffed owl. You can't really say that most of his essays stick to a particular topic; they meander from his father's rejection of him to what Europeans think of Obama to shopping at Costco with his brother-in-law. There isn't really any essay that just sticks with one topic, other than "Dentists Without Borders." What Sedaris is known for is his hilarious family (there's a story in one of his previous books about how his sister Amy Sedaris dressed in a fat suit to trick their father), who don't get a lot of exposure here (not that I blame them for not really wanting to be in the spotlight), and his absurd adventures (in Me Talk Pretty One Day, he writes about his attempts to get rid of a turd in a story called "Big Boy," which is what made me love Sedaris in the first place). There isn't a ton of that here, and it's more of his observations and a lot of daydreaming about the absurdity that might have been had ("A Friend in the Ghetto"). That isn't necessarily a criticism, although it's not my preference. Still, Let's Explore Diabetes with Owls is worth a read if you're a die-hard Sedaris fan. However, I'd recommend my two favorites, Me Talk Pretty One Day and Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim over this one.
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Reading Progress

January 11, 2013 – Shelved
May 23, 2013 – Started Reading
May 23, 2013 – Shelved as: essays
May 23, 2013 – Shelved as: nonfiction
May 23, 2013 – Shelved as: humor
June 2, 2013 – Finished Reading
June 5, 2013 – Shelved as: short-stories

Comments Showing 1-3 of 3 (3 new)

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Lilyanne Spot-on review. Some of the stories felt a bit formulaic after reading "Me Talk" and "Dress Your Family" first, but there were still a few gems in here.


Jessica Thank you!! It's been fun to see you reading all of Sedaris' work. What's your fave so far?


message 3: by Lilyanne (last edited May 06, 2014 03:00PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Lilyanne Gosh that's hard, there are so many good individual stories spread among his books! But I'll say "Dress Your Family." I just laughed out loud at the stories about the turd and the awful French teacher :)


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