Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Best Sign of Editorial Consistency

Looking over many of my previous posts and reviews, I’ve noticed I tend to take a highly subjective, lookin’-down-my-nose, overly-critical of things that are pretty good approach, yet I often act overwhelmed by very simple, decent things. As I set out to review David Sedaris’ latest, “Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim”, I see that I’m not about to change anything. Why? Because “Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim” is a very good book, but I’m not going to come off as overly positive about it.

At this point, despite meeting people all the time who have never heard of David Sedaris, I’m going to say that dude is a literary superstar, almost practically a household name, depending on the household. And for the households that know their Sedaris, there aren’t any surprises to be found in “Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim”—especially when you consider that every single essay in this collection has already been published in a major magazine like GQ, Esquire, or the New Yorker (it’s possible that one or two of the essays in the book haven’t been published before, but I’m writing from my bed, and the book is over on my desk, clearly there is no time or space for fact-checking.) If there’s a work of Sedaris’ that “Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim” resembles most closely, it’s “Holidays on Ice”, because both are collections of previously available material collected by theme (“Holidays on Ice” is about Christmas, “Dress Your Family . . . “ is 85% about Sedaris’ family.) Sure Sedaris’ other collections (and I realize that “collections” is a word that means something) were of mostly previously available material, but Mr. Sedaris wasn’t such a superstar until “Me Talk Pretty One Day” caught everyone’s attention.

I don’t mean to ruin this whole party, there is definitely some very, very funny stuff in this book. Yeah, that was me on the PATH train laughing out loud and closing the book for a moment to regain myself, but in the cold, cool land of the internet critic which I inhabit when I write, a good time on public transportation is hard to recreate in my mind and I’m left with nothing but a lot of “ehh” about this book. Read it yourself, if you’ve got the time, or give it to someone who has never done Sedaris, they’ll probably think it’s really great.

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