Monday, May 20, 2013

Let's Explore Diabetes with Owls, by David Sedaris

I recently joined the 21st century and got myself a PVR.  Now, as much as I love reading, I love watching TV, so this was a huge step forward for me.  The first thing I did after hooking up the PVR?  I set a recording reminder for The Daily Show – I used to live and breath by Jon Stewarts one-liners, but then I stopped being a student with a random schedule, and instead became a professional with a job which started around 7am (my choice, but still).  So, in order to get enough sleep to function as a normal human being, Stewart was dropped; but I always regretted this, since I used to get my news from The Daily Show, and I also learnt about new authors and books from Stewart’s interviews.  But, now that I had a PVR, I am back on track, and that led me to my latest read…. Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls, by David Sedaris.

While being interviewed by Stewart, I realized that Sedaris had a similar sensibility to mine; why worry and get yourself worked up about things when laughing at them is so much easier and enjoyable?  And that’s the sentiment that runs through Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls, which is a collection on essays about Sedaris’ world, both past and present.

The main theme that runs through Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls is that of family; how we might interact with parents, the role of siblings in our lives, and the place of a partner in your world.  Though Sedaris’ essays are about his personal history and experiences, they are full of life-lessons that are applicable to everyone.  What helps these ideas to be transferable is Sedaris’ approachable and friendly writing style; it is almost as if he is writing each reader a personal email with this observations.  It’s an intimate and enjoyable (and incredibly humourous) way that Sedaris has found of conveying his stories.

My only complaint (which resolved itself) were the “Forensics” chapters.  As Sedaris tells us in the Author’s Note, a performance art has been developed in which people take passages of the written word and edit them for performance in competitions.  As such, Sedaris has provided a handful of chapters that could be used to this end.  These chapters are some of the most humourous, but they are unidentified as being Forensics scripts, so it can take a page or two to catch up with Sedaris; this means going back to start of the chapter with re-aligned expectations and understandings to truly enjoy them.  In retrospect, it’s not a major flaw (as I mentioned, I found them to be hilarious, so the annoyance was worth it), but it is a flaw none the less.  

These Forensics chapters give Sedaris a chance to stretch his satirical muscles, and they are more than up for the task.  Taking on the voice of hypocrites, well-meaning idiots, and aggressively dangerous morons, the Forensics chapters mainly tackle the themes of same-sex marriage and dissatisfaction in every-day life with such a panache that it made me want to hug Sedaris for turning the spot-light on ‘these’ types of people.  

So, final verdict?  Read Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls, and then do what I’m going to do, and read the rest of Sedaris’ works.  In a world that seems bound and determined to tear itself apart over the dumb things (like who gets to love who) while ignoring the real things (like that scary looking person over there with his finger on a dirty bomb), Sedaris steps in and reminds his readers to laugh, and to find the humourous side of every-day life.  

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