Monday, February 21, 2011

Book of the Month

This month,


By David Sedaris

In his latest book, humorist David Sedaris tackles many of the odd, quirky subjects that he always does, but this time he uses animals to address them. The book contains 16 separate stories that are based on a book of fables that Sedaris found in South African mythology. Along with illustrations by Ian Falconer, each story contains the usual mix of satire, hilarity and awkwardness that one usually can count on from Sedaris. It is as if Aesop has been biding his time for a twisted 21st Century comeback.

I have to say that this is not as enjoyable or laugh out loud funny as some of Sedaris' other work, but after getting through the first few stories, the book picked up and I did find myself chuckling. The Cow and the Turkey, where the barnyard animals pick names for Secret Santa, is one of the high points. It is no surprise that this story was featured on This American Life because it has the best punchline of any vignette in the book. Another of the better fables is The Vigilant Rabbit, which focuses on the need for protection in the forest. It falls to the rabbit to be the guard, and in true Sedaris fashion the story takes an unexpected and bitingly humorous turn.

Don't be fooled by the cutesy drawings of animals, this book is not for kids or the easily offended. It tackles subjects that are near and dear to fans of Sedaris- drugs, sex, relationships, disease, awkward encounters and self serving agendas. Perhaps these stories seem more horrifying because we don't expect animals to behave in such dark and callous ways. That's what humans are known for, and Sedaris adeptly gives our foibles and interactions over to the animal kingdom. I would not rank this as high as Me Talk Pretty One Day, but this collection proves that nobody- man or beast, is safe from the warped barbs of our modern day Aesop.

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