David Sedaris's remarkable ability to uncover the hilarious absurdity teeming just below the surface of everyday life is elevated to wilder and more entertaining heights than ever in this new book of stories.
Sedaris proceeds from bizarre conundrums of daily life - the etiquette of having a lozenge fall from your mouth into the lap of a fellow passenger or how to soundproof your windows with LP covers against neurotic songbirds - to the most deeply resonant human truths. Taking in the parasitic worm that once lived in his mother-in-law's leg, an encounter with a dingo and the purchase of a human skeleton, and culminating in a brilliant account of his attempt to quit smoking - in Tokyo - David Sedaris's sixth story collection is a fresh masterpiece of comic writing.
Sedaris, king of the poignantly absurd, triumphs in this sixth essay collection (after 2004's Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim). There is less focus here on the Sedaris clan as a whole, though the various members make memorable and often hilarious appearances. In "The Understudy," the Sedaris siblings band together to battle the odious babysitter Mrs. Peacock, while in "Town and Country," Sedaris and sister Amy discuss what their father would be most offended to find on his daughter's coffee-table (hint: The Joy of Sex comes in a distant second). Leaving America behind, Sedaris also regales readers with his experiences around the globe, from sitting in a Parisian doctor's office wearing only his underwear in "In the Waiting Room" to warding off birds in the French countryside with record albums in "Aerial." In the collection's longest essay, "The Smoking Section," Sedaris recounts his three-month stay in Tokyo, where he successfully quits smoking and unsuccessfully attempts to learn Japanese. Sedaris records in "Buddy, Can You Spare a Tie?" his more glaring mistakes in life, but he should be satisfied with the knowledge that this latest endeavor is anything but.