This book is collection of 22 autobiographical essays by American humorist David Sedaris, and a fun joyride through they eyes of David looking at his family members and his own experiences. The essays run the gamut of family topics from David wanting to be a hippie and panhandling to purchase a suede vest in the 70s to his "redneck" brother's marriage day to uncomfortable situations in which an openly gay man should not get into with a young boy.
I think the best way to break this review down would be essay by essay. But first I want to say that David Sedaris has a great way of finding humor in the most interesting places. It could be that funny situations hit us everyday, and from some of these stories, they do, and we just don't take the time to enjoy them. David Sedaris now allows you to laugh at some of those moments from his life and possibly enjoy your own just a little more. Most of these stories are really something that happen on a day to day basis but Sedaris' use of language and ability to describe the situations, makes them funny and with some just poignant enough to make you feel good.
I'm not going to go recap all 22 essays, I'll leave some of the fun for you, but I will recap some of my favorites.
"Us and Them" - childhood memories of a family "who don't believe in TV"
Young David takes upon himself to defend and pity a neighborhood family that have no television and may not understand some pop culture references, at least until, they go trick or treating the day after Halloween, and the only candy available is his "hard earned" stash.
"Full House" - a childhood game of strip poker gives the young Sedaris a touching moment
Have you ever wondered how growing up a homosexual affects the normal everyday things a young boy goes through? Take for example slumber parties.
"The Change in Me" - the 13-year-old Sedaris wants to act like a hippie.
Seeing a hippie girl get free money by panhandling David decides that's the way to be cool, and after eyeing a suede vest in the department store he now knows how to earn the money.
"Blood Work" - a case of mistaken identity while cleaning houses
So what would happen if you worked cleaning houses and a customer mistook your company for an erotic housecleaning service?
"The End of the Affair" - Sedaris and Hugh's different reactions to a love story
This story had one of the funniest lines. David is explaining that his sister is one to talk through a whole movie and at times the following may happen; While watching an actor spread mayonnaise on a chicken sandwich she would lean over and say, "One time I was doing that and the knife slipped and landed in the toilet." Leaving David wondering, who would make a chicken sandwich in the bathroom?
"Repeat After Me" - Sedaris's visit to his sister Lisa, and his family's feelings about being the subject of his essays
I always wondered what his family thought about being the subject of his stories and in this story we find out and at the end left with a little tender moment where David apologizes, not directly but through a parrot.
"Six to Eight Black Men" - thoughts about the traditional Dutch Christmas story, among other cultural oddities
This has got to be one of the funniest stories in the book. David likes to compare different cultures and this comparison of the Dutch Christmas and that St. Nicholas doesn't have 8 tiny reindeer but 6 to 8 black men accompanying him is some great laughs.
"Nuit of the Living Dead" - a late night encounter at home in rural France
In this story David points out how the mundane things in life can be viewed by the average person much different than what is actually going on. The story starts with David drowning a mouse in a bucket when some lost tourists stop by to ask for directions. Many hilarious details in this one.
And those are just the highlights. I would highly recommend the audiobook on this one because hearing the words read by the author makes them that much more hilarious.