Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris is hysterically funny in parts. All in all I enjoyed this book. My paperback copy has 272 pages and was originally published in 2000. This is a nice book to pick up if you know you will only have short spurts in which to read.
I have heard David Sedaris on NPR before sharing one of the stories in this book. I vividly recalled laughing until there were tears in my eyes while listening to him. In some ways these stories beg to be told by Sedaris in order for you to fully appreciate them. (Sedaris is openly gay so if that is going to offend you, be forewarned.)
"...Sedaris's caustic gift has not deserted him in his fourth book, which mines poignant comedy from his peculiar childhood in North Carolina, his bizarre career path, and his move with his lover to France. Though his anarchic inclination to digress is his glory, Sedaris does have a theme in these reminiscences: the inability of humans to communicate. The title is his rendition in transliterated English of how he and his fellow students of French in Paris mangle the Gallic language. In the essay "Jesus Shaves," he and his classmates from many nations try to convey the concept of Easter to a Moroccan Muslim. "It is a party for the little boy of God," says one. "Then he be die one day on two... morsels of... lumber," says another. Sedaris muses on the disputes between his Protestant mother and his father, a Greek Orthodox guy whose Easter fell on a different day. Other essays explicate his deep kinship with his eccentric mom and absurd alienation from his IBM-exec dad: "To me, the greatest mystery of science continues to be that a man could father six children who shared absolutely none of his interests."
Every glimpse we get of Sedaris's family and acquaintances delivers laughs and insights. He thwarts his North Carolina speech therapist ("for whom the word pen had two syllables") by cleverly avoiding all words with s sounds, which reveal the lisp she sought to correct... As a remarkably unqualified teacher at the Art Institute of Chicago, Sedaris had his class watch soap operas and assign "guessays" on what would happen in the next day's episode.
It all adds up to the most distinctively skewed autobiography since Spalding Gray's Swimming to Cambodia. The only possible reason not to read this book is if you'd rather hear the author's intrinsically funny speaking voice narrating his story. In that case, get Me Talk Pretty One Day on audio. --Tim Appelo"
"They themselves listened only to Greek music, an oxymoron as far as the rest of the world is concerned. Slam its tail in the door of the milk truck, and a stray cat could easily yowl out a single certain to top the charts back in Sparta or Thessaloniki."
"You could tell Gretchen anything in strict confidence, knowing that five minutes later she would recall nothing but the play of shadows on your face. It was like having a foreign exchange student living in our house. Nothing we said or did made any sense to her, as she seemed to follow the rules and customs of some exotic, faraway nation..."
"Visiting Americans will find more warmth in Tehran than they will in New York, a city founded on the principle of Us versus Them. I don't speak Latin but have always assumed that the city motto translates to either Go Home or We Don't Like You, Either."
(From a conversation in a French class)
" 'And who brings the chocolate?' the teacher asked.
I knew the word, so I raised my hand, saying, 'The rabbit of Easter. He bring of the chocolate.' "
"On Easter, having learned that The Greatest Story Ever Told was sold out, I just crossed the street and saw Superfly, the second-greatest story ever told."
"...it's just that a lot of people are as lazy as I am, and together we've agreed to lower the bar."
"It turns out that I'm really stupid, practically an idiot. There are cats that weigh more than my IQ score. Were my number translated into dollars, it would buy you about three buckets of fried chicken. The fact that this surprises me only bespeaks the depths of my ignorance."
"Often I never made it to bed. I'd squat down to pet the cat and wake up on the floor eight hours later, having lost a perfectly good excuse to change my clothes. I'm now told that this is not called 'going to sleep' but rather 'passing out,' a phrase that carries a distinct hint of judgement."