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'Let's Explore Diabetes With Owls' Delights With A Dose Of Sedaris Humor

Kelly Belter |
May 6, 2013 | 1:49 p.m. PDT

Staff Reporter

Let's Explore Diabetes with Owls is Sedaris' ninth publication (Little, Brown and Company).
Let's Explore Diabetes with Owls is Sedaris' ninth publication (Little, Brown and Company).
The first time I laugh out loud is on page 13. Here, David Sedaris states that, when confronted with scenes of parents and their uncooperative children, he has the sudden urge to say, “I’m not a parent myself, but I think the best solution at this point is to slap that child across the face. It won’t stop its crying, but at least now it’ll be doing it for a good reason.”

It’s a remark Sedaris links to his own childhood, where “our parents put us to bed with two simple words: 'Shut up.' Our artwork did not hang on the refrigerator or anywhere near it, because our parents recognized it for what it was: crap." It is this blunt, but never self-pitying, approach that sent me into fits of laughter several times over the roughly three hundred pages of "Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls," Sedaris’ newest collection of essays.

This is an anthology with a broad range of subjects—Sedaris regales us with tales of everything from the perils of buying condoms and olive oil (in bulk) at Costco to killing sea turtles—yet there is a common thread in that, no matter the topic, these stories are all definitely Sedaris’. Elements of his childhood and the present are woven together, as moments from today illuminate those from the past and vice-versa. Even though things aren’t neatly aligned, the essays don’t seem to be in any sort of chronological or logical order, they are organized in a way that paces the reader, taking him or her through a myriad of anecdotes without becoming overwhelming. In every piece there is a sharpness of tone and wit. Sedaris’ voice is more than there—it jumps off the pages. One feels as though one is listening to a friend tell an amusing story in the comfort of one’s own home rather than the distant act of reading a stranger’s words. And by the end, Sedaris doesn’t feel like such a stranger anymore.

In addition to these personal essays, there are also a few pieces written from different perspectives. These are character pieces, where Sedaris takes on another voice, and they seem to serve as a sort of social commentary. While still entertaining, I found these stories the weakest; at least, they were the least enjoyable. Sedaris’ strength definitely lies in the more personal tales. His own voice is the loudest and most engaging, and his own anecdotes shine brightest.

Upon the book’s final pages, I found myself at a loss, as I always tend to feel knowing that I’ve reached the end of something wonderful. I’ll admit it—I spent a good time afterward online watching various readings from Sedaris to cope. After all, laughter is one of the best ways to deal with grief.

Reach Staff Reporter Kelly Belter here.



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