Nancy McKibben's Reviews > Let's Explore Diabetes with Owls

Let's Explore Diabetes with Owls by David Sedaris
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it was amazing
bookshelves: favorites, humor, reviewed
Recommended for: people who like a funny book

Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls
By David Sedaris

Ah, David Sedaris. I first read his work in Esquire magazine, a riff about learning a foreign language that was so funny that I could not even read it to my bemused family without collapsing with laughter and becoming all but unintelligible. I have since read all his books of essays and attended a reading that he gave at The Ohio State University.

So I am a fan already, and he has nothing to prove to me. Humorous writing is even more subjective than regular writing, and he may leave you cold, but I can tell you why I find him so funny.

First, he is abjectly honest. He talks in detail about a high and drunken evening he spent with an alcoholic stranger on a train. He goes to a taxidermist to find a stuffed owl for his partner Hugh, and the taxidermist seems to at once to recognize a kindred spirit.
The taxidermist knew me for less time than it took to wipe my feet on his mat, and, with no effort whatsoever, he looked into my soul and recognized me for the person I really am: the type who’d actually love a Pygmy and could easily get over the fact that he’d been murdered for sport, thinking breezily, Well, it was a long time ago. Worse still I would flaunt it, hoping in the way a Porsche owner does that this would become a part of my identity. 'They say he has a Pygmy,' I could imagine my new neighbors whispering as I walked down the street. 'Hangs him plain as day in the corner of his living room, next to the musket he was shot with.'

How many of us would admit this? He exaggerates for effect, true (another reason that he is so funny), but his confessions have the effect of engaging our sympathies.
He also notices and notes quirky details that the rest of us forget to file away.
There was an issue of the local paper in the backseat of the car, and leafing through it on our way there, I came upon a headline that read, 'Dangerous Olives Could Be on Sale.'

'Hmm,' I said, and I copied it into my little notebook.
Sedaris has a happy gift for description. He speaks of a butchered rooster that provided “a dreary soup with two feet, like inverted salad tongs, sticking out of it.” About swimming pools:
Chlorine pits is what they were. Chemical baths. In the deep end, my sisters and I would dive for nickels. Toss one in, and by the time we reached it, half of Jefferson’s face would be eaten away. Come lunchtime, we’d line up at the snack bar, our hair the texture of cotton candy, our small, burning eyes like little cranberries.
Not that his essays are only funny. Although he skewers his family endlessly, he clearly loves them: “Cut off your family, and how would you know who you are? Cut them off in order to gain success, and how could that success be measured? What could it possibly mean?” So maybe that’s why he’s funny - there is heart behind the humor.

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Reading Progress

July 26, 2013 – Started Reading
July 26, 2013 – Finished Reading
July 29, 2013 – Shelved
July 29, 2013 – Shelved as: favorites
July 29, 2013 – Shelved as: humor
July 29, 2013 – Shelved as: reviewed

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