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Sunday, December 6, 2009
Naked by David Sedaris
I really wanted to read some Sedaris, I half heard one of the stories from this book on NPR one Sunday and I was completely hooked. Also the essay book Bookmark Now mentioned Sedaris in many of the essays. If print ever dies Sedaris has ensured he would live on by making his essays readable, as in readable out loud. Some of the writers in Bookmark Now seemed to be a bit critical of Sedaris because of this but honestly I couldn't tell at all that it was anything other than just literature that I was reading. The same story I heard on the radio, I Like Guys, was a different experience when I was reading it quietly by myself but I absolutely didn't feel it was a diminished experience nor did the story seem to be missing anything.
Most of the book is about his family and growing up, about the relationship between his parents and about his grandmother coming to stay when she could no longer care for herself at her own home. It's the kind of story that most everyone has, I mean growing up with a more or less weird but loving family but Sedaris is unflinching in his ability to explain the details of what made his experience unique. It's actually quite nice, you can tell his family is what we would now call dysfunctional but Sedaris seems to resist that kind of stigma and embrace it as normal and lovable.
The book is pretty much in chronological order, from David's growing up, to teenage years, to college and on to the death of his mother. The book was named after an excursion he made to a nudist colony. Naked was my least favorite of the essays because it seemed like he took the trip almost to have something to write about. Not being a nudist himself it's kind of a gonzo journalism stunt but unfortunately it seemed that by the time he went he was too well put together mentally for a gonzo journalism stunt to be interesting. Half of what makes Hunter S. Thompson such a thrill to read is that you're wondering if Hunter will end his trip in the psyche ward or in traction. With Sedaris, while it was funny, it never really felt like he was embracing an experience, just taking a vacation from his normal, which is offbeat to be sure but still I didn't see how this essay fit in with the rest.
If you are unfamiliar with Sedaris this is a fantastic entry point. I'm glad I read it before his other books because it put so much in context for my other reads which will be in posts to come. So no I won't complain about Naked, it was an extra thrown into a fantastic autobiographical collection and I'd have to say I'm very happy to have read it. Thanks sis for the present!