Wednesday, July 16, 2008

When you are Engulfed in Flames

The moments that David Sedaris enters into his pocket notebook are often simple observations. A man with a parakeet on the handles of his shopping cart in a Parisian grocery store. A French man collapsed on the sidewalk being offered drink from a crystal goblet by a paramedic. (Who else but the French could pull that off, now really?)Japanese parents who use Windex to clean up after their child places his hands on the windows of the subway car.

Of course we all see incongruous things in our day to day lives; we acknowledge them and they quickly fade from consciousness. But Sedaris scavenges these odd mementos and weaves them into something more interesting than the usual comic writing.

Although I always read his books in under a week, they stick with me more than other comic writing. The idea of polishing something odd and overlooked has an undeniable appeal to me. (Aren't I looking for the exact same thing in thrift shops?)But I also love the way he excavates his personal relationships so relentlessly. (Though I do wonder what the implications might be for said relationships.) He's at his best when writing about the people he loves best and confessing his most ridiculous neurosis. The results had me guffawing and also got me thinking I ought to pull out my own pocket notebook a lot more often.

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