Recommendation: This book of short, supposedly funny essays made me think I could be a robot. Not once did I laugh, not once did I want to read over a funny passage. It elicited only a couple smirks before being tossed aside. Unless you find this in the $1 bargain bin, I wouldn’t bother picking it up.
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David Sedaris, I want to like you so much. We have the same first name, you’re from North Carolina, and you’re incredibly popular everywhere you go. But I’m coming to terms with the fact that we just might not have aligning senses of humor. I was extremely disappointed with Holidays on Ice, the first book of Sedaris’s that I’ve read. As with most of his material, it came highly recommended and I even had a friend tell me to drop all my other books and start on Holidays immediately. When I finally did find myself ready for some humor, I propped this book in my hand and read, and read, and read. And then it was over. It was like the fuse on a firecracker; you get ready, light it, and wait with bated breath until…..nothing happens. It’s a dud. In place of a burst of fire and noise you wind up just standing stupidly, wondering what you did wrong.
I really didn’t get it. I’m not sure if there were punchlines that I simply drew a blank on or if I was supposed to fall Gideon-Cross-style for Sedaris’s neuroses instead of simply finding them pedantic. There was even a section where I found Sedaris bordering much closer to offensive than funny. During one of the essays, Sedaris introduces a prostitute and writes about how, as a young man, he thought himself very considerate for how he treated her. That’s completely whatever to me, but I was a little stunned by the characterization of this prostitute. The prostitute felt like a caricature and her treatment was condescending and that entire essay just had me gritting my teeth. You can tell me it was a non-fiction essay and Sedaris is a compulsive note-taker and this is what “really happened” all you want, but Sedaris was recounting an event that happened many years ago providing pretty extraordinary detail that I doubt is entirely accurate and, even if it was, this essay still used a prostitute stereotype as comic relief. Not my favorite.
As for Sedaris’s writing, I’ll say it was fine, but again, I had trouble finding punch lines. I didn’t find anything to laugh at but, if I had, I might not even have known when to do it. Overall, I just didn’t enjoy this title. I can’t say I hated it, but it elicited exactly zero emotions from me. It isn’t a big book so it wasn’t a big waste of time, but, just, meh. Meh, meh, meh.